Cook County, Illinois, the county that encompasses the city of Chicago, approved a penny-per-ounce soda tax on Thursday by vote of the governing council.
Cook County's population of 5.2 million means that this soda tax affects the largest number of people of any similar tax in the nation.
Similar taxes were passed by ballot measure in San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, Calif., as well as in Boulder, Colorado last Tuesday. Boulder’s soda tax is the most expensive of the three, with a two-cents-per-ounce tariff on sugary beverages.
"There is a huge body of economics research demonstrating that for most food and beverage products, increasing the price leads to a reduction in consumption," Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, told Mother Jones.
"Soda taxes are now on the policy agenda, and I think we will only see an increase in such policies over time," he continued.
Cook County joins Philadelphia as one of only two places in the nation where such a tax was passed by vote of the governing council as opposed to ballot measure.
Bloomberg News has reported that since 2009, there have been more than 40 attempts to enact similar soda taxes in cities across the nation. While many, such as New York's attempt in 2010, were voted down, a positive trend began in November 2014 with the landslide vote in favor of Berkeley's soda tax.
“This is an astonishing repudiation of Big Soda,” Jim Krieger, MD, MPH, the executive director of Healthy Food America, told Forbes. “For too long, the big soda companies got away with putting profits over their customers’ health.”
Similar soda taxes have also been passed in Mexico, in 2014, and in England, where a sugar tax was passed on sugary beverages and snacks sold in hospitals in January.
In October, the World Heath Organization published a recommendation that internal governments tax sugary drinks at 20 percent in a report entitled “Fiscal Policies for Diet and Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases.”