Richmond Soda Tax: California City Puts Controversial Measure On November Ballot (VIDEO)

Posted: Updated:
Getty Images

RICHMOND, Calif. -- Voters in Richmond are set to decide whether to make the San Francisco Bay area city the nation's first municipality to tax soda and other sugary beverages to help fight childhood obesity.

The Richmond City Council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to place the soda tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, despite opposition from grocers and soda drinkers. The tax would apply to soft drinks and other beverages with added sugar such as Snapple. Diet sodas and most juice would be exempt.

The money from the penny-per-ounce tax would go to soccer fields, school gardens and programs to treat diabetes and fight childhood obesity. It's projected to raise between $2 million and $8 million.

Other cities around the country have considered soda taxes as a way to reduce obesity and its related health effects. But Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, said no city has gotten as far as Richmond.

Councilman Jeff Ritterman, a doctor who proposed the measure, said soda is a prime culprit behind high childhood obesity rates in Richmond, where nearly 20 percent of residents live below the poverty line.

"Even a Twinkie has some nutritional value. But soft drinks have none. They're poisonous," Ritterman said. "I think other cities are going to follow our lead."

But Councilman Corky Booze, who voted against the measure, said it would hurt Richmond merchants and soda drinkers.

"This is a tax on poor people. That's all it is," Booze said. "People are going to drink soda anyway. But people who can't afford cars are going to end up paying more."

Around the Web

Richmond soda tax to fight obesity makes ballot

Soda Tax approved for Richmond Ballot | Richmond Pulse

Soda Tax Hits Richmond Ballot | NBC Bay Area

Richmond City Council to consider soda tax ballot measure ...

Richmond to place 'soda tax' on November ballot - San Jose ...

Richmond Voters Will Decide on “Soda Tax” | State of Health Blog ...

By the Numbers: Richmond's proposed soda tax - Pulse of the Bay ...

Soft drink tax will appear on Richmond ballot |

Richmond to consider placing 'soda tax' before voters ...

Opinions Divided on Richmond Soda Tax

Richmond soda tax to fight obesity makes ballot

Soda Tax Added To November Ballot In Richmond, CA

Richmond City Council OKs Soda Tax Measures for Ballot