May 18, 2012 in Nation/World

Obesity drives soda tax to ballot

Associated Press

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.

“If these products are causing damage to the community, the community has a right to recoup those damages,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

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