Today, I voted with 15 of my colleagues on the Cook County Board of Commissioners to repeal the Soda Tax. Almost 77 percent of those polled said they believed the tax was in order to raise money, with 11.71 percent saying it was meant to "improve health". Retailers earlier this year unsuccessfully sued the county with a lawsuit that claimed the tax was unconstitutionally vague, hard to implement, and unlawful because similar beverages were taxed differently.
A groundswell of opposition to the tax led most of the county commissioners who originally voted for it to change their position. And I am thankful for the talented professionals at the Cook County Health and Hospitals System who are committed to promoting better health outcomes for residents across the County, especially in our vulnerable communities. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the Can the Tax Coalition, an organization that includes local store owners and soda industry group the American Beverage Association, has spent at least $3.2 million in anti-tax TV and radio ads. The tax was greeted with 87% disapproval from the public. People living near the border of Cook County were willing to drive a short distance to avoid the tax.
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The tax, which was projected to raise $200 million every year, has raised $16 million in the first two months since it went into effect - about half of what was projected, said Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
Cook County commissioner John Fritchey, a Democrat from Chicago, suggested taxing legalized recreational marijuana as an alternative revenue source in lieu of a soda tax, and is introducing a county board resolution to do so.