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No sugar tax on consumer products, says Maltese business chamber

Chamber of Commerce says obesity needs to be fought by other means, not with tax

Matthew Vella
18 March 2016, 5:29pm
No to sugar tax, says Chamber of Commerce
No to sugar tax, says Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce has declared itself to be against sugar taxes in a statement it has issued on the announcement of the UK government to impose a special tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks in 2018.

“There is no evidence to suggest a tax on sugar-sweetened soft drinks would successfully reduce obesity rates. It has been demonstrated time and again that such initiatives are merely a financial burden for consumers- in particular the low income ones-without either improving public health or reducing obesity rates,” the Chamber said.

The employers’ organisation said that in both Denmark and Mexico, discriminatory taxes on food and drink had been introduced, with the former abolishing them within a year due to adverse consequences to the national economy, namely inflation, cross-border trade, and risk to jobs.

As for Mexico, the soft drinks tax reduced daily average calorie intake by just 6-10 calories (or 0.5% of overall calorie intake) – a result significantly lower than what was intended when compared to the efforts undertaken by the sector itself in the country.

 “As the institution representing major food and beverage industries in Malta, we support policies aimed at improving the health and lifestyle of the Maltese and more specifically, we are committed to working with all relevant institutions to find a solution for the serious and complex global health problem of obesity,” Anton Borg, Chamber of Commerce president said.

“If the aim is to reduce obesity, this tax goes against evidence from around the world which shows taxes do very little, if anything, to reduce sugar and calorie intake or obesity levels but do add to people’s cost of living. It is misleading to suggest that an additional tax would in any way address the growing and complex problem of obesity. Real results will only come from measures that have been shown to work, like reformulation, innovation, consumer education and the promotion of physical activity.”

Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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