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Richmond Voters May Decide On Soda Tax In 2012

RICHMOND (CBS SF) -- Voters in Richmond next year may be casting their votes on a sugary drink tax meant to help combat the city's growing obesity rate.

The Richmond City Council voted Tuesday night to have staff members draft a November 2012 ballot measure imposing a penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary beverages sold within city limits, a city staff member said.

The discussion and vote came shortly after the council heard a report from Dr. Wendell Brunner, the county's Public Health director, on the heavy impact of sugary drinks on Richmond's youth.

Brunner discussed a recent county health report which concluded that 42 percent of the current generation of Richmond's children is expected to be obese as adults.

City Councilman Jeff Ritter, a retired cardiologist, introduced the measure to combat what he believes is a public health crisis, according to a city statement.

"As with tobacco several decades ago, we're dealing with a product that offers no nutritional value whatsoever and is being aggressively marketed to our children," he said in a statement. "If we don't intervene, we are going to see rates of adult obesity double in the near future."

The potential ballot measure would ask voters if they support the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks and whether they support a non-binding advisory measure to allow proceeds from the tax to cover childhood obesity prevention programs.

City staffers are expected to bring the draft ballot measure back to the council in the coming months, said Marilyn Langlois, a spokeswoman for Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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