Sugar tax ain’t so sweet

CAUTION: The following post contains material of a cynical nature. Reader discretion is advised!

As the BBC reports, the government’s latest budget includes a levy on sugary soft-drinks with some prices expected to rise by 80 per cent.

Personally, I love my soft-drinks (especially Dr Pepper). I know it has absolutely no nutritional value and is not really good for my health. I have cut back a lot but still drink too much. Ideally, I should be more of a social drinker – only during social events or special occasions, like going to the movies or my night off. This is the goal anyway.

Yet now we have the Government bringing in a tax targeted on one industry. I have not heard anything about a tax on lollies or juice (which often has more sugar than fizzy drinks) or even the sugar in fruit. This despite us being told constantly that sugar is sugar is sugar, there is no difference…well, the one in fruit is kind of good for you.

Sorry, sugars are different depending on where they come from. Whenever we think sugar, we think about the bits we put in our tea and coffee. As though on the production line some bloke is pouring in a few teaspoons of sugar into your fizzy drink. Soft-drinks generally use high-fructose corn syrup rather than granular sugar we are used to seeing. This is one type of very sweet sugar. Not sure if stevia sugar falls under this tax. Or lactose in milk. Doubt it. This is just the Government targeting an industry which is being held responsible for an increase in obesity.

We are the Government – we know what is best for you.

Granted, as I mentioned, I have never heard of someone loosing weight by drinking soft-drinks. What I object to is the Government using its power to tax by targeting one specific product (yes, I disagree with this for cigarettes and alcohol as well). Sadly, individual responsibility does not mean much when the Government gets stuck with the bill while providing state-run healthcare services (the NHS). You give Government an inch, they find a way to take whatever else they want.

This “tax” may very well be “for the greater good” and will probably have an impact on consumer behaviour (a rise in prices generally does, duh!). Yet people still drink and smoke. So who will get hit hardest by this tax? The poor and the working class who will have even less money. Fizzy drinks are cheap (I can get the cheapest brand for 17p or 8p per litre!), whereas the cheapest fruit squash (my next preference) is about £1.25 or 6p per litre (depends on how sweet you like it). They are basically the same and with similar sugar levels (although squash is that supposed good sugar).

I am all for people taking more responsibility for a healthier lifestyle. I do not agree with the Government using its power to tax to target an industry in an effort to coerce people into making better choices. But they probably do not care that much because it is just more money in their pockets.

Remember, undemocratic tactics are OK so long as it is for the greater good and we do not feel too bad about doing it.


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