The supporters of a proposed penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks admit they have an uphill climb, but they say public health is worth it.
The Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity say obesity is a costly epidemic and say imposing the tax at the distributors’ end of the chain would encourage healthier habits.
“This isn’t going to affect anyone’s choice,” says Elissa Bassler, who leads the alliance. “Everyone will still have the choice to do what they want, to drink what they want to drink.”
The money, an estimated $600 million per year, would be split among restoring Medicaid cuts and such initiatives as bike paths and other public health matters.
Manufacturers are already against the idea and say it has not worked in Arkansas and West Virginia, the two states which have tried it.