Measure N: Richmond Soda Tax

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Richmond's Measure N is a proposed one-cent-per-ounce tax on local businesses that sell sugar-sweetened drinks. Supporters say the tax will promote public health by providing millions of dollars for anti-obesity and recreation programs. But opponents argue that the measure would hurt local business, and say there's no guarantee the money would be spent on anti-obesity programs. Should local governments tax soda?[View the story "Is a Soda Tax the Answer to the Obesity Problem? Listeners Weigh in on Richmond's Measure N." on Storify]

Is a Soda Tax the Answer to the Obesity Problem? Listeners Weigh in on Richmond's Measure N.

On Oct. 19, KQED's Forum discussed the issue of Richmond's Measure N, which would place a one-cent-per-ounce tax on local businesses that sell sugar-sweetened drinks. The show was one of our most heated of this election. Here are some of the comments submitted via our website and on social media.

Storified by · Mon, Oct 22 2012 15:40:04

We started the conversation on Richmond's soda tax by asking "Do you support a tax on sugary drinks or is there a better way to curb obesity? Below are some of the suggested alternatives to the tax. 
Self control....Anna-Maria Carrillo
Not everyone agreed that this was a viable solution:
Ya self control is a bullet proof solution. Would you put your kid in a room with a pedophile and leave his experience up to power of self control? A tax won't curb obesity, but it will at least help pay for the consequences of itRich Wang
Talk of exercise, better parenting and fast-food surfaced:
Cities should be car free. I think automobiles have exacerbated the sedentary lifestyles of the last 50 years.Jon Rendell
Make portion sizes smaller in fast-food chainsKashmira Patel
@KQEDforum "Not there fault"?? Who's putting the drink to mouth? Self discipline and parenting required.Carl E. Holland
During the show, debate between Richmond City Councilman Jeff Ritterman and Chuck Finnie, the spokesman for the Community Coalition Against the Beverage Tax, was heated.  As one listener observed:
The two people on KQED Forum right now sound like they're about to throttle each otherCathy Edwards
Indeed. Things were tense. At one point a caller supporting Measure N said that the opposition was running a "campaign of lies." Another caller criticized the measure as "hyper-regressive." One listener dislikes the way both sides are running their campaigns:
My household must receive 2-3 calls per day from pollsters. It's gotten to the point where we don't want to answer our phone. Same questions, over and over. One thing about the soda tax -- they say "did you know..." when "asking" an anti-N question but "ask" for an opinion for pro-N. Going for the soft peddle approach. My feelings? No one needs to drink soda. Sorry, but a Big Gulp isn't fundamental to human nourishment.Holly Anderson
Some of listeners saw the measure as indicative of  the negative aspects of Bay Area politics; but most who weighed in on social media seemed to support the tax.
@KQEDForum Two people arguing about taxing infant formula is a great example of why bay area politics/proposal system are brokenOMWerner
It's touching how much Big Soda cares about Richmond's welfare #alligatortears Listening to @KQED's Forum, rolling my eyes.sometimes just leah
The big soda rep keeps dodging questions and spouting party lines. Why can't people see through that? Yes, the tax will get passed on to the poorest people, but how much money will they save by NOT buying soda? Svetlana Kagan Goldenberg
If the measure passes, it comes down to people making the decison between sugary drinks that is a little more expensive and water that is cheaper. If people choose to spend more money on sugary drinks then they suffer the financial and health consequences of their own stupidity. Justine Rose Armen
Dr Ritterman is courageous and he is looking at the important issue instead of some small inconveniences of the only plausible solution anyone has proposed. I have no involvement in this matter.Ron Gutman
To learn more about the measure, including discussion of where the money raised by it will go, click through the link below and listen to the show:
Measure N: Richmond Soda Tax | KQEDRichmond's Measure N is a proposed one-cent-per-ounce tax on local businesses that sell sugar-sweetened drinks. Supporters say the tax wi...

Guests:

Jeff Ritterman, Richmond city councilman, retired cardiologist and supporter of Measure N

Chuck Finnie, spokesman for the Community Coalition Against the Beverage Tax, a campaign against Measure N, and vice president of media and communications for Barnes, Mosher, Whitehurst, Lauter and Partners

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