After realizing that a soda tax did nothing good, the county that includes Chicago repealed it.
If the politicians running Chicago repealed the soda tax, it must be an extremely painful tax. It seems that there were no health benefits to soda being taxed, but it did hurt local businesses. Too many consumers owned cars and could drive outside Cook County to buy soft drinks. But that meant they probably did some or all of their grocery shopping outside—which was devastating to Chicago retailers.
If people become convinced that soda is unhealthy and care about their health enough to do something about it, then the only industry affected is the soft drink industry. Trying to manipulate such behavior through taxation is devastating to an entire regional economy.
Reason.com reports, “Chicago’s Soda Tax Fizzles.”
Chicago’s controversial soda tax is dead. Lawmakers in Cook County, Il., which includes Chicago and more than 100 surrounding cities, towns, and villages, including Evanston (where I went to grad school) and Des Plaines, voted this week to repeal the tax.
It was big news when lawmakers in the second largest county in the United States voted last year to adopt the soda tax. Supporters hailed it as “the biggest deal yet.”
But guess what? It’s an even bigger deal that the tax has been repealed.
The short-lived tax, passed in November 2016, was a disaster. Billed as a way to raise revenue and improve residents’ health, instead it spurred lawsuits and threats from the federal government. Retailers complained beverage sales had plummeted by nearly half, thanks in part to wealthier consumers avoiding the tax by driving outside the county to buy soda.
Chicago learned soda taxes aren’t the panacea their supporters claim. I oppose them for many reasons. For example, they’re regressive, promote layoffs, don’t reduce obesity, and could be the foot in the door that’s used to further erode food freedom, I wrote last year in a Sun-Times op-ed.
Remember how much lying was done on behalf of the soda tax to get Chicago resident compliant:
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