David Cameron says NO to sugar tax (but didn’t even read the report?)

By Rachel O'Regan |

I Quit sugar - David Cameron rejects sugar tax without even reading report

  • After months of debate, Downing Street released a statement yesterday ruling OUT a sugar tax.
  • Jamie Oliver appeared in the House of Commons on Monday to argue his case for a 20 per cent levy per litre on sugar-sweetened soft drinks.
  • Public Health England, the executive agency of the Department of Health, have recommended a soft drink tax based on a year-long evidence review.

The sugar tax debate is playing out like a Katy Perry Song: “You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re yes and you’re no, you’re in and you’re out, you’re up and you’re down…”

But this might be the most definitive answer to the question of a sugar tax we’ve had yet. A big fat, resounding NO. (At least, for now…)

Downing Street released a statement yesterday morning saying that David Cameron had no plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks and sweet foods. The PM believes such a tax is a “blunt weapon” that would hit struggling families most and there are “more effective ways of tackling” obesity.

But, hold up, doesn’t the government health agency recommend a sugar tax?

Just a couple of days prior, a representative of Public Health England (PHE) revealed that the executive agency of the Department of Health did, in fact, recommend a soft drink tax. The findings were based on a year-long review of evidence on childhood obesity which was published today. This is what they’re proposing:

“[The] Introduction of a price increase of a minimum of 10 per cent to 20 per cent on high-sugar products through the use of a tax or levy such as on full-sugar soft drinks, based on the emerging evidence of the impact of such measures in other countries.”

Now there are claims of Downing Street bowing down to big business.

According to (we’ll leave it to you to evaluate how credible that is), Mr Cameron didn’t even read the PHE report before putting his foot down. And, to make matters even more suspicious, it was also revealed Mr Cameron hosted food giants Mars, Coca-Cola, and Nestle in Downing Street last year. Hmm…

Jamie Oliver who earlier this week lobbied for stricter sugar policy in the House of Commons, had expressed confidence based on conversations with Mr Cameron that the tax was still a possibility. But judging by the following statement, it seems this loss has fired him up more than ever.

“If this is true I’d be hugely surprised and disappointed because, in my meetings with him on the subject, I’ve outlined my own experiences of seeing just how devastating too much sugar can be. Why would the government ignore such evidence? For the answer, we have only to look at the pressures exerted by the powerful food and drinks lobby, which has been reluctant to accept even the simplest solutions to the sugar epidemic, such as clearer labelling.”

But what do YOU think?

We want to know whether or not YOU support the idea of a soft drink tax. Sound off below if you like, and leave a comment letting us know why. And don’t worry, there’s no judgement here either way. We’re genuinely interested.

Did David Cameron make the right decision?

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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