Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Sugar tax would cut soda guzzling

Published:Wednesday | March 22, 2017 | 3:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The PNP Patriots' proposal to replace the proposed tax on health insurance with a tax on sweetened beverages is an excellent one.

It is in line with the World Health Organization's (WHO) support of a sugar tax on soft drinks. A recent WHO report found that raising prices by 20 per cent or more results in lower consumption and improved nutrition. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-37620087

The March 18, 2016 London Guardian points out that the almost-constant hikes in the cost of tobacco over the last 15-20 years have helped bring down smoking rates, and hence health costs, dramatically. Sugar taxes would likely produce a similar effect.

Economist Dennis Jones also suggested this policy in a recent article.

"Many jurisdictions have already tried to do this with taxes on sugary drinks: Denmark has had such a tax in place since the 1930s. ... So, why should Jamaica's finance ministry not make a calculation of what a 20 percent increase would yield, assuming that we got a proportionate reduction in consumption?" https://jamaica politicaleconomy.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/jamaica-needs-a...

If the government is truly interested in the long-term health of Jamaicans, it should not hesitate to join the forces of enlightenment. A sugar-drinks tax would both be good politics and good policy.

KEVIN O'BRIEN CHANG

kob.chang@fontanapharmacy.com