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Chicago's soda-tax plan advances

A Chicago City Council committee met Wednesday to consider a proposed tax on sugary drinks.

In a council chamber packed with beverage industry workers, the sponsoring alderman listed health hazards linked to sugary drinks, including developing diabetes.

"Adults who drink one to two servings a day are 26 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes," said Ald. George Cardena, 12th Ward.

But one opponent wondered, why target certain beverages?

"In fact, the majority of calories attributed to sugar that we consume actually comes from food," said Tanya Triche, Retail Merchants Association.

If passed, supporters say the tax would generate over $130 million: one cent per ounce on sugary bottled drinks and syrup used in fountains. Proponents say the ordinance would discourage sugar consumption and set up a fund to promote wellness.

"It clearly stipulates where the money would go and 75 percent would be wellness," Cardenas said.

But consumers at a West Side store say their health worries do not include getting sick or fat.

"I worry about getting shot. Because of the neighborhood I stay in," said Deparrish Hozier, a soft drink consumer.

"I think they're more concerned about being killed right now with this violence going on in the 'hood rather than sugar killing them," said Anthony Burns, a soft drink consumer.

Meanwhile, back at City Hall, a former city attorney - now a lawyer for the beverage industry - testified that an additional tax on soft drinks would need state approval.

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