The Pros and Cons of the Tax on Sugar
The government’s new so-called sugar tax is a subject almost guaranteed to spark some fizzing debate. Is it a fundamental move in the fight against obesity or a toothless one-trick pony that will do little more than force fizzy drinks fans to fork out a little more for their sugary beverages?
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is supporting the tax as a means of reducing the amount of sugar being consumed in the UK. There are many people who believe that people will increasingly opt for cheaper and healthier options.
Supporters hope that the tax will make it easier for people to make healthy food and drink choices, and force manufacturers and retailers to react. It is believed, for example, that fast-food outlets should offer customers the chance to choose healthier and cheaper choices.
These moves, it is believed, could significantly lower the heart disease risk in the UK. Studies have said that as many as 3,000 people could avoid heart disease each year simply by reducing their sugar intake.
Food and beverage headhunters may find it almost impossible to choose between the likes of Jamie Oliver and fellow celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, but the sugar tax means that choices must be made by the general public. This is because Heston has slammed the tax supported by Jamie, largely because it focuses solely on beverages and not on all sugars.
For many people, the targeting of just the drinks industry is a major downside of the tax – one which has prompted soft-drink makers to threaten legal action against the government – but it is far from the only one.
Another ‘con’ can be likened to the subjectivity involved in an executive search or in the assessments and evaluations carried out by food and beverage headhunters and other food recruitment specialists. Opinion can play a part in choosing the right candidate for a job, just as it inevitably will when deciding which products are unhealthy or junk and which are not.
Simply introducing the tax as planned in 2018 will not automatically guarantee that obesity levels will decrease and the health of the population will improve, either. Will there be enough resources to monitor effects and take action if results are not being seen?
Similarly, many doubters question what will happen if it is found that fans of sugary drinks simply accept that they have to pay more for the privilege of enjoying their beverage choices, in a similar way to how smokers continue to indulge despite the levels of taxes applied.
The government seems to think that the sugar tax will be effective in reducing sugar consumption, in a similar way to the experiences of other countries, and it has pledged that the half a billion pounds predicted to be generated will be ploughed into schools, breakfast clubs and sports.
It is hard to disagree that action is needed to address the issues of obesity and declining health as a result of lifestyle choices, but surely a single tax focusing on such a narrow sector is far from enough. This is especially true if it is not backed by education and incentives to persuade people that healthier food and drink are the right choices and not just the cheapest choices.