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Letters: Beverage taxes don’t make us healthier

Activists claim that taxes on beverages will make people healthier when there is no evidence that these taxes will have any real or measurable impact on obesity. One needs to look no further than Arkansas and West Virginia to see that soda taxes do not improve health. These states both have longstanding soda taxes, yet consistently rank in the top 10 most obese states.

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Health may be the stated desire but the funding would be used to support new programs and do nothing to address the budget challenges facing the state. While families in our state have had to learn to tighten their belt and make do, some continue to ask for more and more for their own projects. This results in more burden on grocery bills and more costs on small businesses.

These taxes have real consequences. Not only do they cost jobs, but it harms small business people who depend on beverage sales for their livelihoods and it raises the bills on families dealing with a struggling economy.

We are a part of every community in Illinois and we take seriously the need to do our part to address public health concerns like obesity. If we want to tackle obesity, it starts with education and collaboration, not burdensome taxes, laws and regulations that distract from real solutions.

The Chicago Sun-Times editorial from Aug. 18 stated…” a better way to combat the poor dietary habits that are to blame for alarmingly high rates of obesity and diabetes is public education, as First Lady Michelle Obama has been showing us for years” and we couldn’t agree more.

America’s beverages companies have maintained their longstanding commitment to being a part of the solution to reducing obesity in America, including offering a wide range of beverage choices, a variety of package sizes and clear calorie labels. Recently, the American Beverage Association launched a partnership with the Clinton Global Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier America called the Balanced Calories Initiative.

This effort is one of the largest industry led campaigns to ever address the issue of obesity in the United States. The core message of the campaign focuses on the common goal of reducing beverage calories in the American diet and helping consumers understand the heath impacts of what they eat, drink and do. There are significant efforts underway to provide consumers with more choices, smaller portions and fewer calories — all while being informed about what they are consuming.

Partnerships like the one with the Clinton Foundation and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation demonstrate the willingness of our members to play their part in providing information to consumers so they can make informed decisions regarding what goes into their grocery carts.

Jim Soreng, executive director,

Illinois Beverage Association

New Flint problem

It was great to read about the help that was given to the people of Flint, Mich. I was wondering about another problem Flint will have. How are they going to dispose of all of those empty plastic bottles?

Ted Schwartz, Brookfield

Listen to Dr. King

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired us to reflect on and live our aspirations. Today, Donald Trump and even some Black Lives Matter members want us to dwell on and act out our exasperations. Come on, America. Dream with Dr. King rather than listen to the naysayers.

John J. McGuire, Loop

Clean up our drinking water

Rev. Jesse Jackson in his recent column is right. Clean and safe drinking water shouldn’t be a luxury. We shouldn’t be forced to drink bottled water because the water flowing through our pipes is tainted with lead, toxins, excess nitrates, or any of the other myriad of chemicals and additives that end up in our waterways.

Access to clean water is no longer something we can take for granted in this country. We’ve seen over the last few weeks a slew of uncovered and rediscovered transgressions against our right to clean water. From the poisoning of Flint, Mich., to Toledo, Ohio, where they cut off the drinking water for 500,000 Ohioans to the emerging stories of unacceptable lead levels across the country from Chicago to New York City, and the continued destruction of our waterways by corporate agriculture as nitrates overrun our water, creating larger and larger dead zones. From California to Virginia, our waterways are in jeopardy.

Many in Congress continue to back polluters by attempting to overturn clean water regulations and preventing more from being put forward. Corporate agriculture continues to get a free pass, even though it is responsible for making waterways across the country unfit for drinking, fishing, swimming, or wildlife.

It is time for a more responsible system, one that will create strong regulations, give agencies the power to enforce them, and place people and the planet above profits.

Brittany King

campaign organizer, Environment Illinois

Quit the NRA

The gun lobby trades the blood sacrifice of children for financial gain. Everyone with any sense of right and wrong should cancel their membership.

William Rankin, Irving Park

Laughable discussion

Some of the discussion about the Supreme Court vacancy is laughable. The Republicans are saying “the people should have a voice who gets nominated” and “It should not be left to a lame-duck president.” If they read and understood the Constitution to which they claim such fealty, they would acknowledge: 1) the people already exercised their voice on Supreme Court nominees when they re-elected President Barack Obama by a large majority in 2012, and 2) the Constitution makes no mention of “lame-duck presidents “or otherwise suggests that a President loses any legal authority in his/her last year or years in in office. So much for adherence to strict interpretation!

Bill Janulis, Brookfield