The Irish Beverage Council (IBC) today condemned proposals from various political parties for a sugar tax as pre-election posturing, which will cost consumers money, but do nothing to improve public health.
The IBC stressed that they believe that evidence, rather than electioneering, should inform policy decisions.
According to a statement from the IBC, the soft drinks tax in Mexico has only reduced average calorie intake by 4.7 calories a day and sales in France are at pre-tax levels. In 2013, Denmark scrapped its fat tax because of its economic impact and abandoned plans for a tax on sugar.
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The statement goes on to say that despite the introduction of a sugar tax in several countries around the world, no causal link has ever been established between an additional tax on sugar sweetened beverages and a reduction in obesity.
The statement also details the lengths to which the beverage industry in Ireland has taken to reduce the amount of sugar it puts into the national diet. Between 2005 and 2012 the beverage industry has reduced sugar in their products by approximately 10% at no cost to the consumer.
Kevin McPartlan ,IBC Director, said; “In the debate on a sugar tax, simple, verifiable facts are being ignored in favour of populist sound bites based on ill informed opinion. An additional and blunt tax on one ingredient and product is not an effective way to combat the complex and multi-faceted obesity challenge.
“We are all rightly concerned about obesity but the contention that an additional tax on products which account for just 3% of the calories consumed in Ireland will solve it is nonsense. We already pay VAT on soft drinks. This is an unnecessary additional cost to consumers in Ireland dressed up as a public health measure. It will not solve the root causes of obesity. It is simply another stealth tax.
"It would be better to focus on evidence led interventions that will make a positive difference to obesity. It is vital that whoever makes up the next government talks to industry so that effective initiatives are not sacrificed for snappy election sound bites,” concluded Mr McPartlan.
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