Chicago Mulls Additional Soda Tax

IBA comes out against 1-cent-per-ounce proposal, says it's already failed

Chicago proposes 1-cent-per-ounce soda tax

CHICAGO -- The Illinois Beverage Association is presenting strong opposition to a Chicago alderman's proposal to tax soda and other sugary drinks, proposing instead education as a better way to battle obesity in the city.

"If we want to get serious about obesity, it starts with education, not laws and regulation," said IBA executive director Jim Soreng. We "believe the debate should move on to real health solutions."

Ald. George Cardenas on Wednesday proposed a city tax of 1 cent per ounce on soda and other sugary drinks, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. Cardenas, who chairs the council's Health Committee, said the sugar tax could mean $134 million in new annual revenue for the city. In his proposal, 75% of the revenue generated by the tax would go into a "Chicago Wellness Fund" used to pay for city and Chicago Public Schools health initiatives.

"It's time. It's an opportunity for us to reset the button on everything that's going on," the alderman said, according to the report. "The money spent fighting obesity is just ungodly. We could save billions of dollars if we bring down these numbers. We could kill two birds with one stone. We could not only improve health; we could also provide education funding and other things at Chicago Public Schools. The same people affected by it should benefit from it."

In his response, Soreng said such taxes have already failed to achieve Cardenas' stated goals.

"Chicago has uniquely had a tax on soft drinks since 1992," he said. "It has clearly not impacted obesity. Let’s work together to find real solutions that address the nation’s health problems while ensuring important industries in the city are not stunted by punitive, ineffective taxes.”