Tax on sugary drinks punishes consumer
THE EDITOR, Sir:
In The Sunday Gleaner of January 21, 2018, the editorial titled 'Bring clarity to sugary drink policy' addressed the dietary crisis sweeping Jamaica.
The editorial stated that other countries, including Barbados, Mexico, Britain, have addressed the sugar-consumption problem by taxing the products. There was also talk of voluntary restraints on producers. It is often said that to maintain good health, in addition to exercise, attention shouldbe given to the three Ss: sodium, starch, sugar. At present, theemphasis is on sugar.
In seeking to develop a policy for sugary drinks, Jamaica need not follow the policies of other countries. Jamaica should develop its own policy. A tax on sugary drinks would impose apenalty on consumers. However, the consumer purchases what is available. Attention should, therefore, be directed to the products made available. The action needs to be at the point of production, the source of the problem.
Medical doctors, university professors, and scientists should developranges of sugar content considered acceptable for various sugarydrinks. These should be put into regulations, to be observed bythe producers of the products.
Display sugar content
The sugar content ranges for eachproduct should be on the product label. This should enable the consumer to select a product in the approved range.
It may be argued that this will reduce sugar consumption in Jamaica. If it does, the objective would be achieved. More Jamaican sugar should be available for export. If Jamaica is importing sugar, reduce the imports.
The aim is to improve the health of our citizens by reducing sugar consumption. Regulating the sugar content of sugary drinks will achieve this. Taxing sugary drinks is unlikely to produce good results.