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Monday letters: Sugar tax on diet soda makes no sense

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle lost me as a supporter for two reasons when she proposed an extremely punitive tax on sweetened drinks.

First, there is the disingenuousness of hiding behind the “fight obesity and diabetes” rationale, when the tax also would apply to artificially sweetened drinks. Were Preckwinkel genuinely concerned about obesity and diabetes, she would lower the tax on diet drinks, not raise them.

Secondly, for those of us who drink artificially sweetened pop regularly, the tax is onerous. We now will pay a tax of 68 cents on a two-liter bottle that, on sale, costs 90 cents. In other words, the price will almost double. So I’ll be traveling to a neighboring county to stock up on my diet pop.

I have no objection to paying more county taxes if that’s the only way to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in. But there’s no justification for fixing our fiscal problems on the backs of sweetened beverage drinkers. The taxes we pay should be distributed evenhandedly so we all carry part of the burden. And if we must resort to “sin taxes,” let’s be sure those taxes apply to products that can justifiably be characterized as “sinful.” One of the ways I manage my diabetes is with diet pop, which helps me avoid a lot of sugar consumption. Is that a sin?

Jim Morris, Evanston

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