Senator Noone has today outlined how any potential sugar tax should be used in order to reclassify the VAT bracket for healthier foods and allow them avail of a lower VAT rate. Speaking today on this, Senator Noone said: “This is a matter for the Department of Health and Finance to coordinate on, as they ascertain what the value to the exchequer is of creating this tax, but also what the long-term value is to both Departments in having reduced health bills. I believe that the main lever to us in terms of influencing decisions on impulse purchases such as these is that of price, and in this budget we have the ability to implement these changes which will have both short and long-term benefits”.
Senator Noone continued: “The value of a 20% tax on sugar sweetened drinks and foods could be as high as €100m per annum. I note that a number of groups have called on the Government to introduce a 20% tax on sugar sweetened drinks, including sports drinks, in the Budget to tackle obesity. One in four Irish children is classified as overweight or obese and doctors say sugary foods and drinks are a big part of the problem. Indeed, the RCPI believes the tax would significantly impact childhood obesity and in time adult obesity, which would save us money in the medium to long-term”.
Senator Noone added: “As I have said multiple times, obesity is simply a timebomb in Ireland, with more and more children per year moving into both the overweight and obsess brackets, while 6,000 people have died with causes attributable to obesity in the past year. Obviously, education is key and we do not want to become a nanny state, but a mix of minor taxation measures which both fund education programmes and offset the sometimes prohibitive cost of healthier foods would, ultimately, be a universally good thing.
Senator Noone went on to say that: “Research commissioned by the Department of Health has estimated that a 10% tax on sugary drinks would reduce the number of obese adults by 10,000, and this number is certainly considerable. If we can ally the raised level of tax with sufficient education and an offsetting of the price of healthier foods”.
Senator Noone concluded: “Many of these sugary snacks are impulse purchases, bought on the spot and not the kind of thing which would cause people to cross the border to buy, so this should not be a consideration and is simply, in my belief, a line put forward by those who profit on the sale of and addiction to sugary snacks”.