THE DEPARTMENT of Health has “no plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages”. The government pointed to the “tax lock” currently in place as well as the fact that the “causes of obesity are complex”.
The statement was published in response to an online petition that has gathered 144,721 signatures in support of a 7p levy on every regular-sized can of soft drink with added sugar.
Jamie Oliver, who recently introduced a 10p charge on sugary drinks at his restaurant chain, started the petition alongside Sustain. Malcolm Clark, who coordinates the charity’s children’s food campaign, called the decision “absurd”.
“If the government is serious about tackling childhood obesity and diet-related ill health, then a sugary drinks duty must be one of the options that are on the table for consideration,” he said.
The government confirmed that it will announce its much-anticipated plans for tackling childhood obesity by the end of the year.
Parliament considers all petitions that receive more than 100,000 signatures for a debate. The introduction of a sugar tax has received growing support in recent months – and not just from the public or campaigners, but doctors too.
Results from the early stages of Mexico’s sugar tax, which was introduced in January 2014, have also brought the topic back into the spotlight. In next month’s issue of Footprint, Action on Sugar and the British Soft Drinks Association offer their insight on the controversial policy.