SPRINGFIELD — Illinois shoppers could find themselves paying extra for soft drinks under a proposed statewide soda tax.

The new plan would add an extra penny on every ounce of sugary drinks sold in sealed containers, along with the syrups and powders used to flavor them.

The tax is part of a broader plan to promote healthy living in Illinois, according to state Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, who sponsored the legislation. Revenue from the tax would go toward a range of health services and education initiatives.

"Numerous studies have linked excessive consumption of sugary soft drinks to obesity," Hunter said in an email. "We as a state need to do a better job of educating the public and children in particular about this issue and the health risks."

The proposal has drawn criticism from the Illinois Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, an alliance of manufacturers, retailers and union workers who say the tax would harm the economy and kill jobs in Illinois.

"You reduce consumption, and you reduce employment," said Brian Rainville, a spokesman for Teamsters Joint Council 25 in Chicago and northwest Indiana. "If there's less being made and distributed, there's fewer people doing those jobs.

"Politicians are always talking about creating middle-class jobs, and these are those jobs. These are the good, middle-class jobs that people want to create."

This isn't the first time that legislators and business leaders have fought over a tax on soft drinks.

In 2011, a report by the Cook County Department of Public Health recommended that legislators impose a tax of two cents per ounce on all sugar-sweetened beverages.

Although similar measures have won approval in other states, Illinois lawmakers have been unable to get the tax off the ground.

Others say the tax would impose a burden on families trying to purchase groceries.

"This tax adds $2.88 to a (24-pack) case of soda," said Mark Denzler, vice president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association. "It's nearly a 50 percent increase in the cost of it. So folks that are scrambling to buy groceries are going to have it even harder."

But Hunter said the plan would save the state money by reducing health care costs.

"Medical expenses associated with obesity cost taxpayers more than $100 million annually," she said. "My goal with this legislation is to increase awareness, improve public health and promote healthy living alternatives in an effort to save lives and money."

The legislation is Senate Bill 3524.

(20) comments


At last! I'm so happy to hear this is happening in our state. Look how effective cigarette taxes were for reducing consumption. Obesity is a terrible epidemic (36& of adults in IL) and we need to start doing something about it. Telling people to "just eat/drink less and move more" clearly isn't working.


I disagree, my point is where does it end? I prefer to make my own choices about what is good or bad for my life without being taxed to death or the dysfunctional government trying to control my behavior.


That money will disappear faster than an Illinoisian Governor going to jail!
No big deal to me; I'll just buy my soda when I'm in Iowa buying gas and cigarettes!


Revolution perhaps


I like the govt telling me what i can and cannot eat or drink. or what i can or cannot feed my children. If the law makers were really worried about childhood obesity and adults health they would stop giving money to the big farming corps and make the cheap greasy bad for you food more expensive and start giving it to the farms that produce organic meats veggies etc. If WIC only covers certain things for the babies why doesnt food stamps? Oh thats right its all about the vote! Keep letting people depend on the govt. there is no incentive to do for yourself anymore.

How about a school program called PE? That might fight childhood obesity. My kids have PE 3 times a week. When I was in school I had it everyday.


Tax, tax, tax....those who say this is just another way to raise funds for a state that has been foolish is their spending are 100% correct. If this was really about health, then they would be adding this tax to ALL items sold that contain high amounts of sugar. M & M's look out, you will be next...Want a Snickers bar? Gonna have to pay extra....The list a person could make of the items people eat every day that could be considered to contribute to obesity and heart disease would never end. How about a special all-you-can-eat buffet tax? Ever heard of a restaurant called SmashBurger? They make a great burger, especially when you add a fried egg to it....better tax that too!. But not to worry....the unions have the democrats under their thumbs....and the unions are against this, so i don't think this bill will make it.

And Beman...if you would stop tossing those cans out the window, you could get your nickel a can back.


Well said


Why not Iowa has their 5 a can tax. and yes it is tax.


But it is refundable and has to do with recycling incentive, so you pay a nickel for a can, you get a nickel back when you turn it in to be recycled.


So the federal government pays corn farmers subsidies so that we keep corn and corn byproduct (high fructose corn syrup) prices artificially low and then turns around and wants to tax consumers on the back end as well. The federal government is using our tax dollars to keep these processed foods cheap then turning around and taxing us again so they are more expensive. Seems to me eliminating these subsides to big agro business would not only put the prices of this sugary processed junk where it should be but would also cut down on spending. Win Win


Although I am not a fan of Big Government Intervention the argument about Families Scrambling to buy Groceries is a sad but true joke. Many people on Food Stamps or lower incomes buy junk food like crazy. Food stamps should not cover any processed junk food. Can you hear Frito Lay screaming! We do not buy soda in our home and it amazes me people think this garbage is a necessity. It is destroying the health of many and should never be drank. People like me who choose healthy options, pay high taxes, subsidize junk food and then get taxed more to pay for these folks to get Obamacare. Look at all the fat people with type 2 diabetes and walking with a cane or worse. I guarantee you Soda is at the top of their food chain. Scrambling to buy groceries! Unbelievable.


Well now, that is a totally different issue altogether. Fine, ban junk food from Food Stamps, but DON'T TAX SUGAR. We don't need to be going further down this road to government control over everything we do, say or eat. But there are a lot of families having trouble affording groceries. The healthiest food in the supermarket is the most expensive. A lot of people, both on and off Food Stamps are simply trying to buy the cheapest calories, which is processed food. It isn't necessarily Frito and Pepsi, every boxed dinner meal is garbage, as is most of the frozen stuff too. You can be as pious as you wish about your superiority, but it still doesn't give you the right to force anyone to eat or drink the way you wish. There are costs associated with freedom, we have to allow people to live their lives as they wish as long as it isn't a direct physical threat to the rest of us. That means letting them drink and smoke and act stupid at times.


Kudos to you, you are parenting your household as it should be. Government has no business being parents. Agreed those who are down on there luck and need some help to get on their feet via welfare, food stamps, etc. should be limited to the necessities.
If a child who is obese and can be linked to improper diet then yeah maybe the insurance shouldn't cover health related issues thus leaving the parents responsible for footing the bill for they're poor parenting.
I for one am tired of the government laying the burden of poor parents on the masses via taxation to pay their bills, and to attempt to control what they consume.
They problem starts at home, with lack of education or just lack of caring, the old the heck with it why should I care somebody (the government, ergo the taxpayer) well step in and tack care of me syndrome is ramped. Feed a fish or teach to fish, we as a society have allowed an awful lot of feeding to take place when their should be teaching taking place instead. Again it starts at home


We were warned about this many years ago. First cigarettes, then sugar and next fast food. Caffeine soon to come. Many were so complacent about the cigarette taxes and the bans on smoking because the smoking numbers had declined. Who cares? I don't smoke! It doesn't affect me! And thus began the slippery slope. Sooner or later the liberals will get around to something you like. Mountain Dew, Big Macs, Krispy Kremes, Red Bull, etc etc.. All in the name of public health and safety. Gorging themselves on the taxes they can extort from private businesses. Non smokers who did not express outrage over the government's power grab for all these years it is now your turn to pay up.


Look out I can see it now
Couch potato tax a 1 cent tax for every minute your tv is on an additional penny if the game box is on.
Hey government
Stop being our parents manage the money you have and get on with doing your jobs like paying our teachers a decent wage, or our police, firefighters, taking care if our infrastructures etc. wouldn't take much maybe if all elected officials and those appointed by them would give up just a portion of their pay and benefits we would would see improvement int the stuff that really maters ie teachers public servants etc.


When are you people going to say "enough is enough"? Or you can just add soda to your shopping list when you come over to Iowa for your gas, cigarettes, and groceries. I don't know who's worse, the morons in politics or the people who elected them. The next step is to tax you every time you come to Iowa for your purchases. Wake up! Move out of that God-forsaken state while you are still able! By the way, this is not an original idea. They are copying New York word for word..

Got dents

Increasing taxes on junk food will not slow down the consumption of it. It is nothing but an excuse to raise money for the bankrupt state of Illinois. The state will try to convince the public that they are concerned about the peoples health. If the Illinois politicians were concerned about the people and the junk food they consume, they would not allow it to be purchased with food stamps. Junk food is alot like cigarettes, raising taxes on either only hurt the lower income people who are the biggest consumers of both. I am going to avoid paying the tax increase and just buy more beer!


I laugh at the comment made by Mark Denzler about people scrambling to get groceries, saying people are going to have it even harder. First off.... SODA ISNT A NECESSITY. I dont even think food stamps should cover them. It's like drinking candy and horrible for your weight, your blood glucose levels, your metabolism.. yes I do consume them... but to say soda is whats going to make it hard for people to buy groceries... you dont need soda. you need milk, juice, water, eggs, meat (if you chose) or some sort of protein and fruits and veggies. Chips, candy, soda, etc.... its junk.. and not a vial part of your diet. Get real politicians... you do realize america is the fattest country in the world right?? its pathetic... less obesity means less medical expenses, less disability claims, less money forket our for food stamps if we only give people what you would get for wic... and a healthier america... its a great budget plan if we limit the junk people consume!

-Laura age 29


It isn't anyones business what I or you consume. Haven't we had enough of bossy, greedy government yet?

Maureen Beach
Maureen Beach

You’ve got that right: what we eat, drink and feed our families is our own choice and does not need government control, oversight or influence. Also, if we want to get serious about reducing or preventing obesity, we need to start with education – not laws and regulation. Soda taxes won’t change behaviors but a more holistic approach to health that encourages balancing all calories with physical activity can make a substantive difference on this front. - Maureen Beach, American Beverage Association

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.