Some local legislators in Chicago are proposing to slap yet another tax on beverages, claiming it will improve public health while also helping dig the city out of a financial hole. But opponents are rising up against what they say is a bad idea that will raise prices on struggling families, cost jobs and do nothing to improve public health.
“Chicago has 20 years of experience with a 9 percent tax on fountain soft drinks and a 3 percent soft drink tax on cans and bottles. During that same time period, obesity has increased,” says Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
“They can’t pin the blame on sugar when obesity is up and sugar consumption is down,” says Karr, who also serves as co-chairman of the Chicago Coalition Against Beverage Taxes. “It’s discriminating against a single product and putting the blame where it doesn’t belong.”
The tax will also prompt Chicagoans to take a quick trip outside the city for cheaper prices on beverages. And when folks go elsewhere, they won’t just buy their beverages outside Chicago but do a lot of their shopping outside the city. That will put Chicago small businesses like grocery stores and the jobs that come with them at risk.
“Chicago is not an economic island. There are lots of places for consumers to get the products they want. And they’re within very easy driving distance,” Karr told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Unlike legislators who are in support of the tax, the beverage industry is focused on real and lasting solutions that bring people the information and options they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle.
To learn more about our industry’s commitments to being part of meaningful solutions, visit DeliveringChoices.org and click here to learn more about why these taxes – which have failed in more than 30 states and cities - are the wrong approach in Chicago.