Soft drink sugar tax starts, but will it work?

Soft drink sugar tax starts, but will it work?
From BBC - April 5, 2018

The "ground-breaking" sugar tax on soft drinks has come into force in the UK.

From Friday manufacturers have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell.

Ministers and campaigners believe it has already proved to be a success with many firms reducing sugar content ahead of the change. But others say it is still too early to judge the impact.

Leading brands such as Fanta, Ribena and Lucozade have cut the sugar content of drinks, but Coca-Cola has not.

The introduction of the levy means the UK joins a small handful of nations, including Mexico, France and Norway, which have introduced similar taxes.

Teens consume huge amounts of sugar drinks

All age groups are consuming too much sugar, with teenagers the worst offenders.

They get a quarter of their sugar intake from soft drinks.

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said: "Our teenagers consume nearly a bathtub of sugary drinks each year on average, fuelling a worrying obesity trend.

"The levy is a ground-breaking policy that will help to reduce sugar intake."

Public Health England also hopes it will improve the oral health of children.

To coincide with the introduction of the levy, the agency released figures showing a child in England has a tooth removed in hospital every 10 minutes due to preventable decay.

PHE's Dr Sandra White said: "It's upsetting to see so many children admitted to hospital with tooth decay."

She is urging families to skip soft drinks altogether and to consume water and lower-fat milks.

How has industry reacted?

Estimates by the Treasury based on market data suggest 50% of manufacturers have reduced the sugar content of their drinks.

Fanta has cut it by nearly a third, Ribena and Irn-Bru by half and Lucozade by nearly two-thirds.

Tesco has said none of its own-brand drinks will fall foul of the levy, although the process of reformulation started before the sugar tax was announced.

Head of soft drinks Phil Banks, believes about 85% of products purchased at the company's stores will be below the levy threshold.

"At Tesco, things wo not be so very different," he said.

But he conceded customers could see some of the branded drinks becoming more expensive or being served in smaller containers.

How will it work?

'Too much stick, not enough carrot'


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