National Obesity Forum 'cross' about Boris's ‘sin tax’ pledge

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The National Obesity Forum has criticised Boris Johnson for promising to stop increasing taxes on junk food if elected Prime Minister.

The campaign group's chair, Tam Fry, told talkRADIO’s Mike Graham he is “cross” with the leadership frontrunner for questioning whether levies on junk food such as fizzy drinks positively change behaviour.

“The sugary drinks industry levy that came in in April of last year actually is a success and has astounded everybody,” he said.

“You measure the success by the quantity of sugar that is going into our fizzy drinks.”

He added: “They [soft drink companies] immediately turned around and said why are we paying the government all this money, let’s take the sugar out. Almost immediately sugar started to disappear.”

But Mr Johnson has argued that an increase in taxes could be hurting those “who can least afford it”.

“Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called 'sin taxes' really are, and if they actually change behaviour,” he said.

His campaign team said it is reconsidering taxes on products high in salt, fat and sugar.

However it has not confirmed whether other “sin taxes” on cigarettes and alcohol will also be reviewed.

Mr Fry said it will take several years before the full effect of the sugary drinks tax is known.

“Why I’m so cross with Mr Johnson is that he’s said they’re all sin taxes, but in fact if you start to tax the sugar, the fat, and the salt, which the three of them are injurious to health, then you are going to have ultimately a great effect on obesity,” he said.

“But it’s going to take time and it’s going to take a lot of thought.”

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