Britain Passes Sugar Tax on Soft Drinks
Nutritionists and doctors alike have rejoiced at the news in Great Britain that the country will pass a tax on sugar in soft drinks. U.K. Chancellor George Osborne introduced the tax and said that it will go into effect in 2018. Osborne also said that the tax was mainly introduced to improve the health of children.
The levy will be based on the amount of sugar in drinks and will be imposed on the companies themselves instead of the consumer. However, if a company chooses to place the tax on the consumer, then that is their decision. The levy will raise about £520 million ($732 million) for school sports programs, according to Mashable.
“I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this parliament, doing this job and say to my children’s generation: ‘I’m sorry, we knew there was a problem with sugary drinks. We knew it caused disease. But we ducked the difficult decisions and we did nothing,’” said Osborne.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who has been campaigning for healthier foods to fight childhood obesity, considers this a major win for Britain, writing on Instagram, “We did it guys! … A profound move that will ripple around the world…”
However, some are skeptical on how effective the levy will be on health.
According to the Irish Times, “Britain’s Food and Drink Federation said Mr Osborne’s tax was ‘a piece of political theatre’ that would make no difference to obesity and cost jobs.”
Drinks that will be spared the tax are pure fruit drinks and milk-based drinks.
Graham MacGregor, chairman of the Action on Sugar campaign group, said that to be effective, the tax has be at least 20 percent on all sugar soft drinks and escalate if companies do not comply.
Britain is not the first to impose a sugar levy. France, Belgium, Hungary, and Mexico also have some form of a tax on sugar-added drinks.