Welcome from the profession for the sugar drinks levy

Welcome from the profession for the sugar drinks levy

The introduction of a levy on drinks with high sugar content has been welcomed across the profession, with the BDA describing it as ‘an excellent first step’. However some commentators in the media have questioned the policy. Drinks containing more than 8g of sugar per 100ml, will be taxed at 24p per litre, with those above 5g per 100ml charged an 18p levy.

The new levy on drinks was welcomed by the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry. Claire Stevens, BSPD President, said she was delighted by the commitment being shown to reducing consumption of drinks which are contributing to obesity and dental decay both by the Government and by manufacturers.  She said: “There has already been product reformulation so industry can reduce the amount of tax it must pay. Nevertheless, as of next week, the Treasury’s income from the sugar levy will be significant and we would like to see that money dedicated to improving children’s oral health through a range of preventive measures.”

The Faculty of General Dental Practice described the new tax as a ‘game-changer’ for oral health, and said the latest data on childhood tooth extractions highlighted its necessity. Dean, Dr Mick Horton said: “The Sugar Tax is a game-changer which will reinforce the message that diet is of critical importance to oral and wider health, and dentists will be delighted to finally see it in effect. Hitting the manufacturers where it hurts has already proved effective, and having to pay extra for the highest sugar drinks should also persuade more consumers to make healthier choices.”

The Oral Health Foundation struck a more cautious note. Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive said: "The sugar tax falls short when it comes to oral health and it does not do enough to address the crisis we have seen develop as a result of excessive sugar consumption in the UK over recent years.” He added: “We are also severely disappointed that there seems to be no sustained effort by government to build on the current sugar tax proposals which have turned a blind eye to addressing pure fruit juices, milk-based drinks and multi-packs; products which are also highly dangerous to our health.”

The Dental Wellness Trust, a charity that fights poor dental hygiene in the developing world, said that, while it applauded the Government’s long-awaited “sugar tax”, further “bold and brave” policies were needed to improve the health of British children, one in five of whom now leaves primary school obese. Dr Linda Greenwall, the founder of the trust, said: “The DWT believes now is the time for a bold and brave evidence-based health policy that directly tackles one of the biggest challenges to child health that our generation has seen.”

Prof Escudier, the dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, said restrictions on point-of-sale confectionery and supermarket price promotions should build on the new tax on fizzy drinks.

But Adam Smith Institute, an economics think tank, said: “It is not really government’s job to make people feel miserable, and it is certainly no business of theirs to legislate what people may or may not eat.

Columnist Matt Kilcoyne, writing in the Daily Telegraph, said that the levy was sharply dividing opinion. Was it an important measure to raise revenue and tackle the obesity crisis, or an outrageous assault on personal choice, he asked and commented “Frankly, I think it's a fool’s errand.”

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