UK Chancellor George Osborne accounted a sugar tax would be introduced, in the UK 2016 budget on Wednesday. The tax would only apply to fizzy drinks, but it was a shocking announcement considering the previous statement from the government.
Campaigners, including chef Jamie Oliver, have hailed Osborne for the decision. Previously, the government had said a sugar tax was a definite no, because it did not want to raise taxes during this time. However, there has been a strong call to encourage parents to make better choices in food and drink, as sugar is a main reason for growing rates in childhood obesity.
The levy will be aimed at drinks that are high in sugar, mostly the fizzy pop, popular among children and teenagers. Those that are milk-based and made from pure fruit will be exempt. Skeptics have called it a fizzy drink tax, more than a sugar tax.
It will be applied based on the amount of sugar in a product, with two bands introduced. A lower tax band will be available for drinks with sugar content between 5g and 8g per 100ml, and a higher tax band for those with sugar of more than 8g per 100ml. Those below 5g per 100ml will be tax free. Irn-Bru manufacturers saw a steep drop in share prices after the announcement, but will not be the only drink affected. Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper and Lucozade Energy are among the companies that will be affected in some way.
The sugar tax will not be applied until 2018. It gives companies two years to change their formulas or face the consequences.
Coca-Cola has hit back at the government’s decision, saying that a tax will not curb the obesity problem. Leendert den Hollander, the UK boss of the company, has said that evidence does not support the idea that cost will change people’s habits. There is nothing to support the idea that obesity rates will drop by the cost of the drinks increasing.
Others have criticized the government for focusing on sugar, when some artificial sweeteners have been proven to be just as bad (if not worse) for the health. Campaigners call for a change to the artificial sweeteners used in some drinks like Diet Coke.
The rates of tax have not yet been announced. Health campaigners want to see a 20 percent tax on heavily sweetened drinks. More will come as plans are put in place up to the April 2018 introduction of the sugary drinks tax.
Featured image from Twitter: tweet included above.
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