‘Big Soda’ splashing bucks to defeat sugar tax

Richmond wants to put a tax on sugar?

Shut. The Front. Door. They can’t tax sugar, can they!? What kind of communist society are they running here!?

Cool your melons, Readerland. Putting a tax on sugar has little to do with making food items more expensive. and more to do with pushing for healthier eating habits. In fact, several European countries have been putting taxes on artificially sweetened drinks and fatty snack foods since 2010.

The city of Richmond would become the first city in the United States to put a per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Should the November 6 ballot measure pass, there will be a one-cent-per-ounce tax imposed at local businesses that sell such beverages.

Sound a little excessive? City Councilman Jeff Ritterman tells Robert Rogers of the CoCo Times that the long-term health benefits of such a tax are worth it:

“It takes some time, just like it did with cigarettes. But we are always getting smarter, thanks to emerging science and the communications that diffuse the results of the new research.”

But national attention on such a ballot measure also brings a very vocal opposing party. Enter “Big Soda.”

The D.C.-backed Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes has thrown up billboards and printed out mailers to convince Richmond residents to vote “No” on the measure. They have reportedly spent more than $350,000 in the process.

Chuck Finnie, vice president of the public relations firm hired to campaign in opposition of the tax, told the CoCo Times the tax will only result in a higher cost of living:

“Our energy and resources are going into making sure Richmond voters understand this is a regressive tax that is going to hurt lower income people the most.”

As the Times points out, both sides of the issue have accused their opponents of being “in it for the money.” Finnie says those behind the tax are creating “new ploys for balancing budgets on the backs of those who can least afford it.”

Ritterman rebuts that the health of “our children” is paramount, and:

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know Big Soda and their publicity specialists are here to make big bucks.”