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Chicago Mulls Soda Tax

"We know that taxing at the right level can reduce consumption of sugary drinks and that reducing consumption will help reduce the prevalence of obesity."

People in Chicago may be paying a lot more for a can of soda if the city council has its way.

“On Tuesday, the Chicago City Council is hearing arguments over a proposed tax on sugary drinks,” My Fox Chicago reports, “Ald. George Cardenas (12th) wants Chicago to charge a 15- to 35-cent tax on drinks to reduce consumption and lower obesity rates.”

The council claims the additional tax revenues would be used to fund “health programs.”

According to the Yale Rudd Center for Food, Policy and Obesity calculator, which estimates how many gallons of sweetened beverages city residents consume in a year, Chicago's proposed 1 cent per ounce tax -- just 1 cent! -- would generate $129 million annually:

Not surprisingly, and probably still annoyed with the city’s tax on bottled water, retailers are fighting the council’s proposal.

“However well-intentioned a soda tax might be, it would unfairly target middle-class workers,” Mike Ciaccio, political director for the Teamsters Joint Council 25 said. “These are jobs where someone could spend 30 or 40 years with one company and retire with a modest pension -- the kind of jobs we’re trying to create.

Ciaccio cites a federal study that shows for every 10 percent increase in taxes on sugary drinks there is a 12 percent decrease in consumption. Bottom line: a citywide tax on soda would translate into fewer sales, less production, and fewer jobs.

“Something as regressive as increasing the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages would simply take away those jobs,” he said. “And there will be a trickle-down effect to supermarket employees, restaurants and small business owners.”

Watch the news brief via My Fox Chicago:

Meanwhile, health experts continue to ignore the possible economic repercussion because they believe child obesity is the real clear and present danger.

“We know that taxing at the right level can reduce consumption of sugary drinks and that reducing consumption will help reduce the prevalence of obesity,” said city Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that reducing consumption of sugary drinks could be the single-most effective intervention in reducing the prevalence of obesity in the United States,” Choucair added.

Cardenas had pledged to work with the Health Department, the business community, and the Chicago Public Schools to come up with a tax policy that pleases everyone, Fox reports.

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