Move over, New York. The City of Richmond is going front and center in the war on soda pop.
On May 16, the Richmond City Council voted to put a measure on its November ballot that would tax sugary drinks. Two weeks later, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on the sale of such drinks in large containers, he attracted national headlines. Now our colleague at PBS NewsHour, Spencer Michaels, has visited Richmond to report on the city's proposed tax.
Both measures are meant to reduce obesity. But the Richmond measure would allow the sale of sugar-sweetened drinks in containers of any size while imposing a tax of 1 cent per ounce. A separate advisory measure would request that the City Council use money raised through the tax to support youth sports and health education, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Also unlike Bloomberg's proposal, which only needs a nod from the Board of Health he appointed, Richmond's measure must be approved by a majority of voters.
To that end, the measure's sponsor, City Councilman Jeff Ritterman, is trying to raise money for a campaign in favor of it, says Richmond Confidential.
Ritterman has appealed to residents to facilitate fund raising events and throw house parties in the community to raise awareness about the soda tax issue and donating to the campaign. “We can win this, but I need to raise $100,000 for mailings, printing, robo-calls, and lawn signs,” said Ritterman in an email sent out to Richmond residents last week. “We don’t need the money all at once, but we need $15,000 right away for a mailing and for door hangers. We have already started precinct walking.”