On 31 January, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance is holding public hearings on the planned tax on sugary drinks. We appeal to all South Africans who are concerned about health issues to support the sugary drinks tax by sending their comments to Parliament by 12 noon on 27 January to Allen Wicomb at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY YOUR VOICE MATTERS
Sugary drinks are one of the most significant contributors to health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, certain cancers and dental caries in the world and in South Africa.
Last year, the Minister of Finance announced a plan to tax on sugary drinks such as soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and sweetened milks by April 2017. Pure fruit juice and milk will be excluded from the tax.
The Parliamentary committees discussing this issue are under pressure to drop this proposal, lower the tax rate, and exempt more products.
Beverage companies and retailer groups are flooding Parliament with comments to prevent this policy, urging exemptions and weaker regulation. Parliament needs to hear from YOU to make sure the final policy is strong and effective in lowering the consumption of harmful sugars in beverages.
Sugary drinks are bad for health
South Africa is already ranked the most obese country in sub-Saharan Africa.
Excess sugar consumption is a major cause of obesity and its related diseases, as excessive sugar intake causes increased risk of diabetes, liver and kidney damage, heart disease, some cancers and dental caries. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Cancer Research Fund recommend that people should consume no more than 10% of total calories from sugar.
Sugary drinks are a significant source of sugar. Sugary drinks include carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy and sports drinks, all sweetened milk and yoghurt drinks, and fruit juices. Many studies show that when we drink sugary drinks we do not eat less, so our total energy intake increases. Children, adolescents and adults are negatively affected by consuming sugary drinks.
Sugary drink consumption is also linked with under-nutrition. In many African countries, including South Africa, babies are given sugary drinks as a weaning food or even as a substitute for infant formula, which increases under-nutrition and stunting. Stunted infants have a much greater risk of becoming obese and diabetic.
Taxes on sugary drinks work
Recent evidence from Mexico, and Berkeley, California in the USA show that taxing sugary drinks lowers the consumption of these unhealthy beverages, increase the sales and consumption of healthier alternatives, and do not result in revenue losses for businesses or job losses.
The sugary drink tax needs to be higher
The proposed tax level of 0.0229 Rand per gram of sugar is commendable, but a higher level of 0.0344 Rand per gram will better enhance the chances of reaching the goal of slowing down and reversing the rising rates of obesity by 10% from the current obesity prevalence rate of 11% among men and 39% among women, as well as lower the current diabetes prevalence of 9%.
3 SIMPLE STEPS FOR SUBMITTING COMMENTS
1. Draft your comments
2. Personalise your comments with your own experience
3. Email your comments by 12 noon, January 27, 2016 to: Mr Allen Wicomb at email@example.com