Sweetened soft drinks increasingly condemned

In response to growing concern over obesity, the UK is imposing a levy on soft drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100ml. The tax will be staggered with a lower rate of  0.18 Euros per liter for soft drinks with less than 8g per 100ml and a higher rate of 0.24 Euros per liter for soft drinks above. Fruit juice and milk-based drinks are exempt.


Traditional sweetened non-alcoholic beverages like Coca ColaPepsi ColaRed BullMonster Origin Energy Drink or 7 Up all have about 10.5 – 11.0 grams of sugar per 100ml and according to the new plans will occur the higher tax rate. FantaDr. Pepper or Sprite with about  6.6  -7.2 grams of sugar per 100ml will incur the lower tax and lemonades like Schweppes or Tango with less than 5 grams of sugar per 100ml will incur no tax at all.


The U.S. is already moving in the same direction. In May Philadelphia’s city council overwhelmingly voted to pass a new 1.5 cent-per-ounce soda tax. Almost certainly Philadelphia will not be the last city in the U.S. to adopt a sugary drinks tax.


South Africa’s National Treasury last month recommended a levy on sugar-sweetened beverages which is now heavily discussed by politicians, economists, industry representatives and scientists.


France already introduced a tax on sugary drinks with more than 3.5% in 2012. Mexico followed with a 10% tax in 2014.


Countries like Norway have a generalized sugar tax on refined sugar products, including soft drinks.


Also Germany is brought into focus concerning the use of sugar in soft drinks. Foodwatch, an independent, non-profit organisation that exposes food-industry practices that are not in the interests of consumers, has claimed more than 50 percent of all softdrinks in Germany to be too highly sweetened. In 171 out of 463 of all products tested, the sugar content was above 8 percent and would be placed in the higher tax bracket according to the new U.K. law. Foodwatch calls now for Germany for a similar tax regime as in the U.K. 


The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy U.S. organization asks for the contrary. According to a report published by CEI soda taxes are a failed experiment and should be scrapped. They claim that soda taxes are a stealth tax against middle class and especially lower income people. “Experience shows soda taxes disadvantage the people least able to absorb the cost, with no measurable improvement in public health”, CEI Fellow Michelle Minton says. Furthermore the effect of a tax is limited. Researchers found the Mexico soda tax increased cost of calories by four percent but only cut calorie intake by one percent.

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