Dentists oppose tax on soft drinks
The country’s dentists have come out against proposals to levy a “sugar tax” on soft drinks.
But with a Government-commissioned report proposing a 10 per cent hike in tax on soft drinks, the Irish Dental Association (IDA) said some of the money raised should be used on improving oral healthcare.
It said that because 60 per cent of the population does not consume soft drinks, any measure aimed at taxing them would target a minority group. Such a tax would also have a disproportionate effect on lower income households, it claimed.
The report by the Institute of Public Health suggests that a tax on sugary drinks, equivalent to 20 cent per bottle, could help counter the rise in obesity. Prepared for the Department of Health’s special action committee on obesity, it may lead to budget proposals for such a tax.
Cutbacks to the medical card and PRSI schemes have had a negative effect on dental health so it was logical that a proportion of the money raised by a sugar tax should be reserved for this area, the association argues.
Michael Crowe, secretary of the IDA, said the issue of food taxes was complex and the association was “not persuaded” of the merits of such a tax to tackle obesity.
Data does not show a correlation between increased consumption of soft drinks and indices of obesity, he said. “We need to reduce our consumption of all sugary drinks. So reducing consumption is not the issue, finding the best way to achieve it is.”
Food and Drink Industry Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the food and beverage sector, said imposing a “discriminatory” tax on certain food and drink products would have no health benefits and would further hit consumers. It pointed out that Denmark has decided to withdraw a saturated fat tax after only one year and was scrapping plans for a sugar tax.