RICHMOND, Calif.—This working-class city northeast of San Francisco has emerged as the next battleground between business and health advocates over a municipal tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.
In May, Richmond's City Council agreed to put a measure on the November ballot to charge businesses a penny for every ounce of those beverages they sell in the city. If it passes, it would be the first city tax of its kind in the nation and the first to be approved by voters.
The measure has pitted a beverage association representing soft-drink makers like Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc., as well as local merchants, against Jeff Ritterman, a 63-year-old city councilman behind the tax.
Through grass-roots campaigning at community centers and drugstores, each side is trying to sway Richmond's residents for their votes. Meanwhile, health advocates from organizations such as Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity are saying the measure could help address the nation's obesity problem.
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