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WASHINGTON: Where Cook County went wrong on the soda tax

soda bottles in a store cooler

AP file photo

My inbox is stuffed with responses to last week’s column (County repeal of soda tax was a mortal mistake — Jan. 14). The Fat Nag reported on a new study with powerful evidence that sugar-driven obesity is the enemy of African-Americans and that the Cook County Board’s recent repeal of the sweetened beverage tax was a mortal mistake, I wrote.

Many of you disagreed. A few choice morsels, edited for space:

Let them learn for themselves

The answer is education. I taught for 35 years but the curriculum didn’t include finances or nutrition. In hindsight, it should have. My grandmother used to make kugel out of dough, fat and flour. Sometimes economics fueled food choices and those choices outlived the financial need. The sugar tax was heavy-handed. People didn’t like being told that what they enjoyed wasn’t good for them in that way.

Sheila Dukelsky, Chicago

Clarification and healthy alternatives can be added

I have no problem taxing sugary pop and drinks but that is not what happened. There was no differentiation between sugary drinks, diet drinks, vitamin waters and sports drinks.

I have paid property taxes in Cook County for 32 years and have seen my taxes go up 800 percent in this time. The soda tax was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

I was a CPS teacher for many years and children would show up eating hot chips for breakfast. How about a tax on those? How about banning that item from stores? Give out free bananas and granola bars at area locations. That might help everyone’s health in the long run, not just ill-advised and poorly executed soda taxes.

Felicia Carparelli, Chicago

Tax must be aimed at all sugary food and drink

If they truly want to end the curses afflicting the health of our people, they need to tax everything that is clearly designed to satiate the appetites of poor and uneducated members of our society. This would include candy bars, excessively sugared cereal and drinks, cakes, cookies and all other forms of wasted calories. Then and only then, when a complete war is declared on unhealthy food, would I support such a tax.

Michael Caplan, Chicago

Win the diet soda vote of confidence

The soda tax should never have included diet soda. This is one of the reasons that was so controversial. The lobbying effort against the tax was amplified by the diet cola drinkers. Why should they have been subjected to this tax?

Seattle has successfully passed a soda tax law exempting diet soda. That would have been the correct approach for Chicago.

Steven Schwab, Chicago

Who really wants the tax? 

I couldn’t agree more with what you said. However, every time the TV stations interviewed people about the soda tax, it was mostly African-American individuals who were complaining about it.

Rosemarie Nowicki, Oak Park

It’s more than sugar

Demonizing sugar as the biggest culprit in African-American diabetics is, at best, more than a little unfair. What is also unfair is to single out one dietary component to fight while giving a pass to high saturated fat and high-starch foods.  Further, it is patently unfair that politicians should have the ability to choose that dietary component rather than the people who elected them.

Despite the outside money from a New York politician, despite wrongful claims from our county board president and despite spiteful counter lawsuits, most of this county’s citizens are doing just fine.

Tough times call for well-thought-out decisions, not additional taxes. I’ll be at the polls in March too, supporting candidates capable of making those kinds of tough decisions.

Rick Haverstock, Niles