A necessary evil: the “soda tax” hits Sandburg

Amal Ghanem, Staff Writer

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The need for taxes is unfortunately a necessary evil in our American society. The most recent addition to the long list of taxes is what is known as the soda tax (officially called the sweetened beverage tax). The tax had been set to take effect on July 1, 2017, but it did not begin until August 2. The tax has been placed on both sugar and artificially sweetened beverages in Cook County, Illinois, establishing a one cent per ounce raise in order to gain revenue for next year’s budget. The tax is an additional one penny on every fluid ounce to a consumer’s bill. Fortunately, the tax will be put away as of December 1, 2017, complying with the majority of Cook County citizen’s request.

The fact of the matter is that this tax is seen as a double edged sword for most. Although some have praised the idea of having a new way to prevent future societal health issues, others see the new enforcement as an ugly addition to our society and have found ways around purchasing items under the Cook County Soda tax.

The tax not only angers and affects individuals, but impacts entire companies as a whole. Jason Landgraf, a Shift Lead at Walgreens, said, “The tax has killed my sales up here, especially because Will Cook (Road) is right down the street, people just go right down there and purchase what they need, our pop sales are down, everything’s down, I can’t wait to get rid of it.”

The soda tax has driven away customers of businesses in Cook County as opposed to keeping companies stable and just gaining more towards the health initiative.

Students at Carl Sandburg had not noticed the raise in prices on sugary beverages at school but have strong opinions on the tax in general. Dunya Abderrhman, a senior at Sandburg, said, “I don’t see a point in the tax, if people want pop, they’ll drink pop, it’s as simple as that. The tax is is supposed to prevent people from wanting to purchase sweetened beverages to then later on benefit their health, but most tend to only see the fact that the prices on them have skyrocketed.

Although the tax has only been around for about three months, it has not yet proven to have benefitted the well-being of children in Cook County and citizens are not sure if it ever will.

“I have hated it from the start, and then the commercials that are being shown are ridiculous because the sugar tax isn’t preventing kids from drinking soft drinks, their parents are still purchasing and providing it for them,” said Landgraf.

One of the tax’s original goals was to make consumers aware of the fact that sugary beverages have a negative effect on individuals’ health, thus calling it a “sin tax.”

Carl Sandburg High School has also been affected by this change; a one cent tax on every fluid ounce of soft drinks has been added to the price in accommodation to the tax. Mary Morgan, the Director of Food Services at Sandburg, said, “There was a lot of confusion when this tax came out… They thought that by adding taxes to sugary drinks, the consumers would be more aware of this and that they would lessen their consumption, but as you know, the people of Cook County raised up and said, ‘You are not going to raise our taxes on sugary drinks, it’s a choice.’ It’s quite similar to our lunch program, we have a lot of healthy options but of course there are lunch items that are not-so-good for you, it’s all a choice.”

This tax has only affected Sandburg temporarily, as it has Cook County in general. “July 1st this went into effect so by the time [students] came back to school the price change was already put into effect, but when this is eliminated on December 1, the prices will change back,” said Morgan. So, although some students may not have noticed the price raise because of forgetfulness over the summer, they will most likely notice the decrease in price after the tax is repealed.
Although there has been an uproar of complaints that have been thought to had been going unnoticed, the people’s opinion was proven to have been heard. On October 10, 2017, the final vote as to whether or not the tax should stay in effect had been placed. The Soda Tax will be revoked as of December 1, 2017 due a 15 to 1 vote opposed and will be placed in the books as one of the shortest lasting taxes of all time.

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