Lessons Learned from Richmond Soda Tax

Last year, Richmond City Councilmember Jeff Ritterman and members of Fit for Life made a gallant effort towards reducing consumption of soda by imposing a 1 cent per ounce sugar sweetened beverage tax.

It was a controversial move that generated heated discussions, strong opposition from the beverage companies and news coverage across the country.

The measure did not pass. Why?  We know that soda and other sugary drinks aren’t good for us.. What was it about this measure and other efforts to reduce soda consumption that just didn’t work?

Richmond stake holders shared with us some advice about possible next steps for Contra Costa County.

  • More support from non-profit organizations. Jenny Wang, a Fit For Life organizer, shared that it was an uphill battle for the organization due to lack of funding and volunteers.
  • The tax helped increase education about sugar sweetened beverages. Coire Reilly from Contra Costa Health Services, said that the initiative provided an opportunity for better communication between Health Services and the community.
  • Plan ahead! Bring community to the table early on. Rhea Laughlin at First 5 Contra Costa said residents of the West County Regional Group had concerns about how soda tax revenue would be spent.  Include the community in early staged of policy development.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest held a webinar that discussed other lessons learned from Richmond’s and El Monte’s ballot measures.

Download the slides here: Understanding-Future-Policy-Implications-1-24-13-presentation.pdf (2.8 MB)

What next?

We heard you! At our January meeting our partners said Healthy and Active Before 5 should do more work in county wide policy. In the coming months the Executive Committee will have further discussion on what that means for us as a project.

In the meantime, we will continue educating about sugar-sweetened beverages and encourage you to adopt healthy policies. We have mini-grants available.. Have you adopted a healthy policy recently?

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