As a long-time resident of Chicago, which resides in Cook County, I was among those who opposed the one-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.
The tax, which went into effect in Cook County on Aug. 1, was repealed Oct. 11 when the commissioners voted 15-2 to undo the tax. This rollback will take effect Dec. 1.
Because the tax was applied to any beverage that used nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners, consumers saw the tax affect their purchase of not only carbonated soft drinks but also energy drinks, sports drinks, ready-to-drink teas and juices that are not 100 percent juice.
When the sweetened beverage tax was instituted, like other consumers, I traveled outside of the county to purchase beverages along with other consumables — something that retailers predicted might happen.
The obesity epidemic has brought more attention to sugar and sweetener consumption in the United States and around the world. In fact, six U.S. cities, including Berkeley, Calif.; Boulder, Colo; and Philadelphia, have passed beverage taxes.
Mexico, France, Hungary, Ireland and the United Kingdom are among the international countries with these taxes.
The taxes also are impacting retailers. Stores in Philadelphia reported that beverage sales are down by as much as 50 percent, with overall sales down 20 to 25 percent, according to Brian Jordan of the Illinois Food Retailers Association. “Consumers, when they shop elsewhere, they’re not only shopping for beverages elsewhere. They’re shopping the entire store,” Jordan said in a statement.
It’s certain that the issue isn’t going away anytime soon. Beverage companies, retailers and states will continue to scrutinize this issue and its impact from both sides of the aisle.
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