COMMENT: Added sugar taxes are good for all of us Sugar

In recent years, the issue of excessive sugar consumption has gained significant attention due to its association with health problems such as obesity, diabetes, and dental decay. To address this concern, several countries have implemented sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes as a policy measure. These taxes aim to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks and encourage healthier choices. 

Over 50 countries worldwide have introduced taxes on SSBs to date. These taxes vary in structure and rates, but their common goal is to curb sugar consumption. 

In 2014, Mexico implemented a volumetric SSB tax of one  peso per litre. This tax led to an 11 percent price increase for soft drinks and other sweetened beverages. As a result, there was a 37 percent reduction in the total volume of SSBs purchased, particularly among poorer households and high consumers. 

Predictions suggest that over a decade, this tax could prevent nearly 240,000 cases of obesity, with significant cost savings.

The United Kingdom introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy in April 2018. This two-tiered levy taxes producers based on a drink’s sugar concentration. Beverages containing more than eight grams of sugar per 100 ml are taxed at £0.24 per litre, while those with five to eight grams of sugar face a lower rate of £0.18 per litre. Manufacturers responded by reformulating their products to reduce sugar levels.

Although not implemented at the federal level, several United States of America cities have imposed SSB taxes. These range from $0.01 to $0.02 per ounce and apply to beverages with varying sugar content.

Evidence from Mexico, the UK, and South Africa indicates that SSB taxes successfully reduce sugar consumption from SSBs. Consumers are more mindful of their choices due to higher prices, leading to decreased purchases.

Manufacturers respond to taxes by reformulating their products to lower sugar content. The UK experience demonstrates widespread industry efforts to comply with the levy.

While short-term studies show positive effects, long-term assessments will reveal the impact of SSB taxes on obesity rates. 

In Zimbabwe, the Government has made a commitment to initially ring-fence the revenue generated from the Beverages Sugar Content Tax for therapy and procurement of cancer equipment for cancer diagnosis.

Unfortunately, there is abuse of the Beverages Sugar Content Tax and other tariff measures by some businesses that deliberately misinterpret the clear policy for profiteering. 

As we reported yesterday, while consumption taxes are charged on the consumption of goods and services and are generally imposed at the time of the transaction, some businesses have gone overboard to disproportionately apply these taxes beyond their intended purpose. 

Examples include the recent obscene retail price increases of soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and a range of value-added dilute juices. Other businesses have gone to the extent of wrongly applying the tax on raw sugar.

We implore businesses to work with the Government in implementing this noble tax that seeks to promote public health and urge consumers to also make the right choice and consume their favourite drinks responsibly.

It is without doubt that added sugar taxes for beverages play a crucial role in promoting healthier habits and combatting the global rise in obesity and related diseases.

You Might Also Like