Sunday, 3 February 2013

A 20p tax on fizzy drinks?

What do you make of the proposal that hit the news this week?  What we're talking about here is the Sustain group, a health campaigning group, suggesting that a tax is levied by the Government on sweet fizzy drinks.  It is based on 20p a litre which works through to about 7p on a 330ml can of Coke.

Accusations of the nanny state are awash together with protests of the Government hitting the poor again.  I think that's a load of rubbish!  Don't believe a word of it.

What's the problem?

Right now in the UK 25% of adults are obese.  This is, quite frankly, a time bomb for the future as this will lead to many more health problems in the future which are avoidable.  Arguably what is even worse is the statistic which has come out of so many primary school children being overweight - this time the rate is one in three.  Extraordinary.

I have blogged before about this issue as it does worry me a great deal.  I can see my own children enjoying ice creams, chocolate and biscuits but we do try to steer them away from these - they're okay as little treats which can be enjoyed from time to time but they must not look upon these treats as being part of their normal eating.  We get plenty of sugar from the foods we eat normally - none of us need to top-up our sugar intake from fizzy drinks.  You know, I sometimes wonder if a glass of super-healthy smoothie is too much sugar in one go.

What should the Government do?

Is it right for the Government to influence our choice of foods through taxation?  After all in the UK we already have high taxation on cigarettes and alcohol, plus VAT on many convenience or take-away foods so is this proposal going too far?

My view is that the Government has to act in the best interests of the population it serves.   Sometimes that means having to make unpopular decisions which are those which are right for the general well-being of the country.  Here there are matters which effect individuals and those which affect the country as a whole: this ranges from individuals who are caught in a world of being so over weight it is difficult to exercise to burn off some fat through to the huge costs borne by the NHS in fixing the problems which come later on.

Yes in my view the Government certainly should look at imposing some kind of tax to curb people's appetite of fizzy drinks containing huge quantities of sugar and/or artificial sweeteners.

It would be even nicer to see MPs taking a stand on these matters such as Dr Phillip Lee MP has done (doughnuts for breakfast) in November 2012.

Perhaps even the more senior members of the Cabinet could set a better example.  Ken Clarke MP is a man I have considerable respect for (I'm afraid I never had the opportunity to photograph him smoking a cigar while he was Justice Secretary) but I cannot help but think the conservative heavyweight Eric Pickles is not the best example although I know he would ably re-buff any comments without any difficulty!

I just wish....

The Government would have the courage to go much further on these issues.  Why stop at 20p a litre?  Far too much faffing around with these things.  While they're at it, why not raise further the tax on cigarettes and alcohol - it must be in the best interests of the population, not to mention a source of cash so Mr Osbourne can pay off the country's credit card bill a little faster.

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