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It's official: Ireland is getting a sugar tax (but not for a few years)

The tax was mentioned in this afternoon’s budget.

Budget 2016 Source: Nick Ansell

A SUGAR TAX is being introduced in Ireland, but not for a few years yet.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan announced that a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks will be introduced in 2018.

Noonan said that the tax would be introduced in line with similar UK plans in April 2018.

Before that there will be public consultation over the measure which will run until 3 January next year.

“It is of utmost importance to me that such a tax is as effective as possible, as fair as possible, and minimises the administrative burden on business,” said Noonan today.

Given the highly integrated production and supply chains which exist in the soft drinks industry between Ireland and the United Kingdom, I believe it would be prudent to align the Irish sugar-sweetened drinks tax with the UK’s tax proposal, in terms of time-frame and structure.

Health authorities and officials have been making calls for a tax on all sugar-sweetened drinks (SSDs) for years, with the Royal College of Physicians warning in 2015 that Ireland could become the fattest country in Europe by 2030 if urgent action isn’t taken.

However, Irish Beverage Council criticised the measure following today’s announcement.

Kevin McPartlan, director of the Irish Beverage Council, said the group was “extremely disappointed” with the measure:

“We are extremely disappointed that the Minister for Finance continues to labour under the delusion that additional taxes on soft drinks will have any positive impact on obesity,” he said.

Internationally, this thesis has been tested and has a 100% failure rate. A sugar tax will hit consumers, industry and the economy for no public health benefit.

The past two Ministers of Health had also urged the Finance Minister to introduce the measure.

Opinion: As someone who was 27 stone at the age of 21, we need more than a sugar tax to fix obesity

More: How the sugar-trafficking food industry paid scientists to tell us fat, not sugar, was the real problem

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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