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27 Apr 2018

Britain’s sugar tax has only just begun yet it is already being hailed as a huge success.

It was considered a success before it even started on April 6.

The reason?

Soon after the legislation was passed, but before the tax actually kicked in, the UK’s largest soft drink makers began significantly reducing the amount of sugar they put in their drinks.

The graduated levy was announced in Britain’s 2016 budget but it wouldn’t kick in until two years later, and it applied only to soft drinks.

There is no tax for drinks containing five grams or less of sugar per 100 millilitres, a medium rate for those containing between five and eight grams, and quite high for drinks with more than eight grams of sugar per 1oo millilitres.

As a revenue raising initiative, the tax is failing. By the time it began, Britain’s treasury more than halved its estimate of what the tax would raise.

That’s because drink makers have massively revisited their recipes in order to avoid the tax.

As a health initiative, the sugar tax is a runaway success.

Coca-Cola started making Fanta and Sprite about half as sweet. Tesco did the same for its whole range of drinks. Ribena and Lucozade are now far less sweet. San Pellegrino in the UK make their sodas with 40 per cent less sugar these days. Other soft drink makers have followed. And what’s more, fast food restaurant outlets are avoiding the tax by removing self-serve full-sugar soda fountains.

George Osborne was Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer (Treasurer) who created the tax.

He stood down from Parliament last year, but he recently tweeted: “Our Sugar Tax is even more effective than hoped. That means less sugar and better health. Progressive policy in action.”

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 27 Apr 2018