Thursday, 22 September 2016Responding to the Government’s launch of the “Healthy Weight for Ireland” strategy, Kevin McPartlan, Director of the Irish Beverage Council, said: “As a major employer and contributor to the national and local economies, the soft drinks industry understands the need to address the obesity challenge which has a wide range of causes. Doing so will require a combined effort on behalf of government, the health profession, the general public, and our industry.
“We note the publication of today’s national obesity plan and its recommendations. We are extremely pleased that the Government strategy states it is to examine the evidence for the efficacy of fiscal measures in addressing obesity. The best policy solutions are those grounded in evidence.
“The call for the immediate introduction of a tax/levy on sugar-sweetened drinks fails that test. There is no evidence that an additional tax on soft drinks will achieve the desired public health outcomes. Any objective assessment of the international evidence will find sugar taxes have failed to meaningfully tackle the obesity challenge. Introduction in Ireland would penalise Irish consumers and businesses and threaten Irish jobs for no health dividend.
“For many years we have invested heavily in reformulation of our products to reduce the amount of sugar and number of calories they contain. We have also introduced new low and no calorie/sugar drinks to offer more choice to consumers. Through these efforts we took 10 billion calories out of the national diet in the seven years to 2012. We will continue with this work but our capacity to invest further is reduced if our sales revenue suffers through a discriminatory tax on soft drinks – which account for just 3% of calories consumed in Ireland.
“Therefore, we call on the Minister for Finance to abandon any plans to introduce an additional tax on our products, and instead to work with our industry on real and effective solutions that will help address the obesity challenge.”