Tax on sugary drinks supported by three in four people, says poll

Irish Heart Foundation says 20% tax on sugary drinks would raise €44.5m a year

People say they would support a tax on sugar drinks if the proceeds were spent on initiatives promoting healthier diets among children. Photograph: Getty Images

People say they would support a tax on sugar drinks if the proceeds were spent on initiatives promoting healthier diets among children. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A majority of people support the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks to help reduce childhood obesity, according to a poll for the Irish Heart Foundation.

The charity says three in four people say they would support the tax if the proceeds were spent on initiatives promoting healthier diets among children.

A call for a 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened drinks forms part of the foundation’s pre-Budget submission, which says the measure would bring in an estimated € 44.5 million a year.

It wants this money to be used to establish a children’s future health fund that would advance a number of health initiatives. These include the removal of all junk food and fizzy drinks from schools, the introduction of a “no fry” zone within 1km of schools, bans on TV ads for junk food until 9pm and subsidies for fruit and vegetables targeted at disadvantaged communities.

Support for a sugar tax has grown from 52 per cent last year to 58 per cent, according to the foundation, with support highest among 15 to 17-year-olds and students.

“It is extraordinary that after all the financial pain people have suffered in the aftermath of Ireland’s economic collapse, after all the extra taxes, levies and charges that have been imposed on us, the Irish public would support any new tax whatsoever,” said Irish Heart Foundation head of advocacy, Chris Macey.

“From the size of the majority in favour it is crystal clear that people don’t think the State is doing enough to tackle the obesity problem and that stronger action and leadership is required.”

In 2012, a Department of Health assessment found a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks would reduce obesity by 3 per cent in adults, he pointed out.