Q&A: Jeff Ritterman On the Soda Tax’s Future, Income Inequality and Health in Richmond

Jun. 28, 2013 / By



Interview, Malcolm Marshall

Editors Note: Jeff Ritterman, 64, is a retired cardiologist and former Richmond City Council member. Ritterman was a driving force behind Measure N, which would have imposed a city tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Otherwise known as the “soda tax,” the measure was voted down in last November’s election.

Richmond Pulse: Where is the “soda tax” idea today?

Jeff Ritterman: The soda tax, on the state level, has been introduced by Senator Bill Monning from Carmel, who’s an old friend of mine. It’s Senate Bill 622. It… along with a whole host of other tax bills, [was] held back and will be reintroduced in 2014. So it’s alive and well and there’s an infrastructure of a few of us who have started to work on the campaign. It’s being sponsored, the bill, by California Center for Public Health Advocacy, and that’s Dr. Harold Goldstein. He’s just absolutely excellent in public health advocacy and he’s kind of leading the effort. And Bill Monning… you couldn’t ask for a better leader on the state level. Monning was a lawyer for the farmworkers. He and I and Charlie Clements formed the Salvadoran Medical Relief Fund back around ’83, I guess, maybe ’82, ’83. He was executive director for International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War when they won the Nobel Prize in 1985. He’s just a terrific person and we really couldn’t ask for a better person on the political level to lead it.

The last polling showed that when the money [from the proposed tax] goes for children’s health — which in SB 622 we mandate — the California electorate is in favor by close to two thirds. So we’re very encouraged by that.

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