ABA Goes After Chicago Beverage Tax Proposal

Plan could add $1.44 to the cost of a 12-pack of soda, other drinks

CHICAGO -- Two weeks after Illinois' Cook County Board president floated the idea of enacting a new tax on sugary soft drinks, the American Beverage Association (ABA) has launched a counter campaign bent on encouraging consumers to join the fight against the proposal.

In late September, County Board president Toni Preckwinkle said she is “looking hard” at enacting a tax anywhere from half a penny to a full penny per ounce to close a $174.3 million budget shortfall without employee layoffs, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

Before a formal proposal could be put before the board, the ABA, working with a local group called Cook County Against Beverage Taxes (CCABT), took out full-page ads in Chicago newspapers quoting small-grocery businessman Martin Sandoval of Food Market La Chiquita as saying, "This tax is going to hurt my customers. Let's keep government out of our grocery carts."

The ad, which ran Wednesday, Oct. 5, goes on to say:

"Just last year, Cook County residents faced property tax hikes and a sales-tax increase. Now Cook County commissioners want consumers to pay even more for hundreds of items like soft drinks, juice, lemonade, teas, sports drinks and energy drinks. This proposed tax would hit families especially hard, adding up to 68 cents to every 2-liter and up to $1.44 to every 12-pack. Cook Country residents and business owners shouldn't foot the bill for the government's budget deficit."

A call to action encourages readers to join the CCABT and voice their opinion against the tax proposal.

The Chicago move comes less than a month after the ABA filed a lawsuit asking a Pennsylvania judge to enjoin and declare the 1.5-cent-per-ounce levy in that state invalid.

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