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Sustain / Sugary Drinks Duty

About the campaign

What are we calling for?

We are calling for the introduction of a 20p per litre sugary drinks duty to reduce sugar consumption, especially amongst children and teenagers. The revenue generated would be used to set-up a Children’s Health Fund, paying for programmes to improve children’s health and protect the environment they grow up in.


Why are we targeting sugary drinks?

Sugary drinks offer no nutritional benefits other than calories (energy) to a nation already suffering high levels of obesity-related diseases and dental decay – it would be good for our health and the environment if we drank less of them.

Diet-related illness - cancers, obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dental diseases - are costing our NHS billions of pounds. The cost to our society was estimated to be £16 billion in 2007, and predicted to rise to £50 billion by 2050 if current trends continue.


Why a sugary drinks duty?

A duty would make flesh Public Health England’s advice “to minimise consumption of sugars-sweetened drinks”, providing an incentive for people to reduce their own and their family’s consumption, whilst at the same time generating revenue for a Children’s Health Fund

A tax on sugary drinks would seem to be both logical and proportionate. It would be levied only on soft drinks with added sugar, so not pure fruit juices or drinks made with sweeteners. It would be an excise duty rather than a sales tax, so increasing proportionately to the volume of drink purchased and thus discouraging consumers from purchasing larger volumes or switching to cheaper brands. And it is targeting a product - soft drinks - that are non-essential, yet are the top contributor of free sugars to the diets of children and young adults, accounting for almost one-third of their total intake.[i]   

There are successful precedents for applying duties on sugary drinks in other countries – for example, Finland, France, Hungary, Mexico and now the US city of Berkeley.


Who is behind the sugary drinks duty campaign?

The Children’s Food Campaign aims to improve children and young people's health and prevent rising levels of childhood obesity and diet-related diseases, by campaigning for policy changes in our schools, in our communities and throughout our society that would promote healthy and sustainable food environments.  Our work seeks to protect children from junk food marketing, and to make healthy eating easier by ensuring children and their families are equipped with the information, education and skills to make those choices. The Children’s Food Campaign is supported by over 100 UK-wide and national organisations. We are co-ordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming.

The campaign for a sugary drinks duty and Children’s Health Fund is supported by over sixty organisations, including public health and medical professional bodies, children’s charities, trade unions, environmental pressure groups and school food experts. Key advocates include British Dental Association, British Medical Association, Faculty of Public Health, Action on Sugar, CitizensUK and Food Active.


[i] National Diet and Nutrition Survey data  2008-12, published in Public Health England, Sugar reduction: responding to the challenge 26 June 2014 (p8)

Sugary Drinks Duty: Support the campaign for a sugary drinks duty, to pay for programmes to improve childrens health and protect the environment they grow up in.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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