Tax on sugary drinks raised €32m and saw drop in sugar levels in many products

Policy is being assessed after initial indications show ‘positive impact’

An assessment of the 2018 tax on sugar-sweetened drinks is being carried out with initial indications suggesting it has had a “positive impact, particularly in terms of encouraging drinks producers to reduce the sugar content in their products”.

The five-year-old tax raised €32 million last year and saw the price of a litre of sugary drinks climbing by 20-30 cent.

Aa comprehensive analysis of the tax is being carried out by the Department of Health.

In response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Ruairí Ó Murchú about when a review of the tax will be carried out and published, the Minister of State at the Department of Health Hildegarde Naughton said a “more comprehensive analysis of the effects of the tax is needed in order to inform any further fiscal policy considerations”.


She said that in the first instance, the Department of Health had carried out a literature review. “Further work on the analysis of the impact of the measure is expected to be carried out in the coming months and it is the intention of the department to publish the findings,” she said.

She suggested that the outcome of this analysis “will assist the Department of Health in terms of examining and considering any possible further measures, in consultation with the Department of Finance”.

The so-called sugar tax was rolled out following the establishment of the Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan that was set up in September 2016 under the auspices of the Healthy Ireland Framework.

It was developed in recognition of the need for a co-ordinated policy response to the increasing problem of obesity in Ireland and the increasing burden placed on individuals and society.

It covers a 10-year period up to 2025 and aims to reverse obesity trends, prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy.

It recognises that obesity is a complex, multifaceted problem and needs a multipronged solution, with every sector of society playing its part.

Childhood obesity is a key priority under the plan as is reducing the inequalities seen in obesity rates, where children (and adults) from lower socioeconomic groups have higher levels of obesity.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast