Laws, taxes and ads -- Are they really making a difference?

The last person to constantly lay heavy guilt on me was my mother.

That seems, however, to be inherent to Jewish mothers.

However, it should not be the role of politicians such as Michael Bloomberg and Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle is the face and the voice behind the recently instituted tax on just about any beverage that the Cook County Board has deemed sweet and unhealthy for you.

Bloomberg, the billionaire philanthropist and former News York mayor, is responsible for the TV ads that are airing in Chicago exulting the dangers of sugar-laced soft drinks. Media reports put the cost of the ads between $1 and $2 million  a nice chunk of change. No one favors obesity, but no one (or should) favors government intervention into consumption of additives.

Preckwinkle and Bloomberg make for a strange combination and it's not clear why Bloomberg sees fit to enter a Cook County issue. Bloomberg probably wants Cook County, and the city of Chicago, to mirror regulations he tried to push through in New York. Those regulations, which went down in flames in 2014 because, according to the New York Times, "Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. of the of the New York State Court of Appeals wrote that the city's Board of Health exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority."

Bloomberg's plan was to, according to the New York Times "prohibit the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces." A noble idea. So, if someone wanted more than 16 ounces, couldn't they just buy a 16-ounce drink and a second one to accommodate their desire for a sugar drink?

Preckwinkle's tax is intended to do same thing, but its ambiguity makes the matter even more bizarre. It's bad enough to tax sugary drinks, but why does the tax include flavored water. A one-liter bottle of flavored water at Walmart carries a price tag of .68 cents. Add in the .34-cent Preckwinkle tax and the register chimes in at $1.02 for a drink that does not contain sugar.

While the concern for obesity and other health maladies is there; the end result is not.  People will continue to find ways to usurp the tax and continue to drink sodas and other things Cook County has deemed bad for you.

And it's not just sugary drinks.

More and more communities are fighting, so they say, teen smoking by raising the age for cigarette purchases from 18 to 21. One of the latest, if not the latest, is Buffalo Grove which approved the measure Aug. 21, which goes into effect in 120 days.

An emotional issue, Buffalo Grove Village Board members heard from parents and student representatives from Catalyst, a student group that campaigns against drug and alcohol abuse. Their position was to be expected -- smoking stinks and is harmful.

Everyone who spoke, residents and Board Members alike, agreed, and justifiably so.

Interestingly, the village Health Commission was against raising the age from18 to 21 because of the potential impact on retailers in the village.  It also indicated that the legal age for tobacco purchases should be handled by the state legislature.

I'm not sure how much impact there will be on retailers because the reality is a crafty teen smoker under 21 will find someone of age to purchase cigarettes or e-cigarettes for them.

While the ordinance addresses purchase of tobacco products, it does not do much, if anything, to reduce teen smoking, just as laws against distracted driving seem to impact people who still text and talk without hands-free devices while driving.

If, as one trustee noted, the intent is to truly lower the number of smokers under the age or 21, a law prohibiting consumption would carry more teeth. In other words, handle tobacco products like alcohol.

Other options could include imposing additional taxes on cigarettes or enlisting the services of Michael Bloomberg.

The reality is they have not been popular or effective.

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