The Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) welcomes the implementation of tax on sugary drinks of 11%. The sugary drinks tax, now referred to as the Health Promotion Levy, is expected to become effective on 1 April 2018.
The national budget tabled today estimates that R 1,9b will be raised for the levy during the tax period 2018/19. The implementation of the levy will be supported by public awareness campaigns.
HEALA emphasises that what is particularly positive is that this is one expense that the public can avoid by consuming healthier beverages.
Government’s decision to introduce such a levy is based on the high rates of diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related diseases which account for 55% of deaths in the country.
“We are glad that by passing a tax on sugary drinks, the government has chosen the health of South Africans over the special interests of commercial entities that target vulnerable populations with unhealthy products. We require these laws and policies that will assist people to live and eat more healthily,” commented HEALA Coordinator Tracey Malawana.
Diabetes alone claimed more than 25 000 lives in 2015, according to Statistics SA, and some 10 000 new cases are diagnosed at public health facilities each month.
“While HEALA and various partners had argued a need for a higher tax that would have been a stronger deterrent to the consumption of sugary drinks, this is a move in the right direction,” Malawana said.
South Africans are among the top 10 consumers of soft drinks in the world and research has shown that drinking just one sugary fizzy drink a day increases the chances of being overweight by 27% for adults and 55% for children.
“What is important is that we have made a start with an evidence-based, nationwide intervention that has proven its worth in cutting sugar consumption elsewhere in the world. The public debate on the sugary drinks tax has raised awareness about obesity and non-communicable diseases.”