Thursday 17 March 2016

A sugar tax is just the start

Have you noticed how the efficacy of the sugar tax is suddenly being played down by campaigners? It's gone from being a game changer to a 'symbolic slap' and a 'first step' in the space of 24 hours.

It certainly is a first step. That's what's so concerning. Let's remind ourselves what the long term ambition of the 'public health' racket is for this tax.

From the transcripts of the Health Select Committee on Childhood Obesity (here and here)...

Maggie Throup: You mentioned tax on other substances. Some of our witnesses last week argued that cigarettes and tobacco, for example, have a tax of 700%, yet the proposal is for just 20% on sugary drinks. Do you think that it will have the impact that you really want?
Professor Jebb: I have not seen any specific Government proposals to introduce it at any level, so we will wait and see what they might set it at. Clearly, the bigger the price increase, the bigger the impact will be. I do not think that we have sufficient data to be able to be precise about how that will work out. With tobacco, of course, we have ratcheted it up over time. There would be no reason not to do that if you started to see it having some benefits.
Professor MacGregor: The other point I would like to raise is that most countries see this as an escalating tax. They start off at 10%; Mexico now wants to go to 20%, France has gradually increased it, Finland has, and last year it was blocked by the food industry, so everywhere you see the power of the food industry trying to block these moves. But like alcohol and cigarettes, once you have started it you gradually screw it up, as with cigarettes; there is, I think, about 800% tax on them now, and yet we are quite happy with that.

There are only getting warmed up. As Andrew Stuttaford says at the National Review...

And if you think this will stop with fizzy drinks, I have a restaurant smoking section to sell you.

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