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Action on Sugar

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Introduce a sugary drinks duty

The cheap and abundant availability of highly calorific foods compared with the relative affordability and restricted availability of unhealthy foods; provide a strong financial disincentive to individuals pursuing a healthy diet. This is particularly the case with the more socially-deprived people, who eat less fruit and vegetables and die, on average, approximately 15 years before those who are better educated; predominantly from premature cardiovascular disease.

As such, a sugar-sweetened beverages duty should be introduced, and other foods such as confectionery should also be considered, both as a lever to support behaviour change and as a means for raising revenue for public health interventions, such as via the Children’s Health Fund, as proposed by Sustain and Citizen’s UK. A 20p per litre excise duty would in itself reduce consumption of sugar, but also raise around £1 billion in taxation revenue which should be ring-fenced for policies to promote children’s health and wellbeing. A 20p per litre duty, at current consumption levels, would amount to £15 per year, or just 4p per day.

Although we understand concerns that a duty could be regressive, we recognise that poorer consumers will respond and benefit much more, so on balance; this ‘regressive’ measure will help to improve their significantly shorter life expectancy (10-15 years).
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