Cook County’s new tax on sweetened beverages goes into effect today, adding a penny per ounce to the cost of most bottled drinks in Evanston.

That includes artificially sweetened drinks as well as ones containing sugar.

But unsweetened seltzer water is excluded from the tax as are beverages containing 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, infant formulas, liquids sold as meal replacements and milk.

Full details can be found in the county code.

The tax was opposed by the grocery industry. An unsuccessful court suit challenging the tax delayed implementation of the new tax by a month. The retailers group has now filed an appeal.

Similar beverage taxes have been approved by referendum in several west coast cities and have been adopted in a number of foreign countries.

The tax is expected to generate $200 million a year to help balance the county’s budget.

To the extent that the tax shifts consumer purchasing away from sugary beverages, it’s claimed it could have an impact on reducing rates of diabetes, obesity and similar health issues.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Would make sense if tax went to right area
    There might be less of a fight if the tax went to medical/dental prevention and treatment.
    Instead it goes to cover a budget shortfall the Commissioners caused by poor planning and spending.
    Like all the tobacco settlement which so many states spent on other things, consumption went down and thus income to the states and they then wished they had to tobacco sales back.
    Likewise the taxes on liquor, tobacco pollution and many other things don’t go to the things that counter these—they go to balance bad budgets.
    The idea behind many taxes and fines and regulations [e.g. Cap and Trade] was to clean-up the problems. If the products [soda, tobacco, etc], auto pollution or say manufactured goods, then if the industry does not clean-up the effects, taxes and fines [and of course resulting increases in price] are to cover them. Think of a bubble over a factory—the company would clean-up every ill effect under the dome or be taxed to cover the costs. If government was as serious about auto pollution, gas taxes would go up several dollars per gallon—some experts say $4-$6..

  2. Way too high

    This tax is very high on a percentage basis – if you buy a 12 pack of soda for $2.88 (not that uncommon when it goes on sale) you will now end up also paying $1.44  due to the new beverage tax.  A 50% tax on soda seems a bit over the top. 

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