The people of Richmond will decide in November whether businesses should have to pay a fee for every ounce of sugar-sweetened drinks they sell. In other words, a soda tax is on the ballot November 6th. If voters approve the measure, Richmond would be the first city in California to impose such a fee.
“The city of Richmond has the opportunity to make history,” Harold Goldstein of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy told me today, adding that the campaign will be closely watched nationally. “Cities and states will be watching this across the country. … They too want to put a small tax on sugary drinks and use those funds to mitigate the harmful effects that all these sugary drinks are causing.”
Nearly half of people surveyed in a poll released today say that an unhealthy diet combined with lack of physical activity are the greatest health risks facing California children today.
Almost three in four respondents — 73 percent — said prevention efforts, while starting with the family, must extend to the broader community, including health care providers, schools and community organizations, and yes, food and beverage companies and fast food restaurants.
We’ve seen it with tobacco. As taxes went up, use went down. Public health advocates have been salivating over the prospect of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to give them a similar foothold in the obesity epidemic and the myriad health problems excess weight causes. But hard evidence on the health effects of such a tax has been limited.
Last night the Richmond City Council voted to let the people decide. The Council instructed staff to prepare a ballot measure for next November to tax sugar-sweetened beverages, what most people call a “soda tax.”
Richmond voters may have the chance to make their city the first in California, and one of the first in the country, to slap a special tax not just on sodas, but also sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavored drinks and the like