We have reached the point where the consumption of soft drinks with excessive sugar is recognised as being unhealthy. Drinking a can of 'pop' a day increases the risk of developing diabetes by 22%. This has been recognised by the Royal College of Paediatrics, the chief medical officer of England and over 60 other bodies and groups who have supported Plaid’s idea of such a levy on sugary drinks.
The Party of Wales has produced a comprehensive paper which explores the introduction of a sugary drinks levy of 20% in Wales – the recently published paper makes interesting reading. The paper sets out how Wales can adopt this innovative tax with the fiscal powers that it is set to receive through the Wales Bill, in order to lead the way on public health.
The research’s main conclusion is that bringing in such a tax in Wales:
- It would reduce the number of obese people by 8,300 and those who are overweight by 13,300
- It would result in a 15% reduction in the sugary drinks consumed.
There would also be wider beneficial impacts on our public health:
- Our expenditure on diabetes would reduce in the long term
- The numbers of cases of diabetes would be reduced, especially amongst those on low incomes.
- A reduction in incidence of heart would follow
- Tooth decay would be reduced
- Manufacturers would lower sugar levels in drinks - so the products consumed would be healthier.
The full details of the tax on Sugary drinks would subject to consultation - the research based the above effects on taxing drinks with added sugar (but not fruit juices). This is a refreshingly creative use of the new fiscal powers could help in the fight against rising obesity levels.
The independent and thorough research examines the potential revenues that could be raised from the tax, and what effects it could have on people's behaviour. At one level, this proposal is about the art of the possible, while the proposals won’t eliminate obesity, the tax will help to contribute to achieving this goal - which moves things forward.