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New Zealand Specific Healthcare Question 6
There has been the suggestion that high sugar foods such as fizzy drinks should have a sugar tax. What are the pros and cons of this? How you would enforce it?
A sugar tax may discourage some individuals from purchasing high sugar foods in a similar way that tobacco tax has reduced smoking. The tax itself may provide a source of revenue to then address other related health issues such as the dental crisis, obesity and type-two diabetes. A sugar tax may encourage companies to research and develop foods with lower levels of sugar.
Sugar-tax will, unfortunately, add an additional cost to consumers weekly food bill. In light of this, there would need to be a counter approach for healthy foods (making them more affordable/attractive).
Some studies suggest that sugar is addictive and therefore, introducing a tax on sugary foods may not stop those consumers, and as with other addictive substances other necessities may be forgone to ensure that those particular foods can continue.
It may also lead to an increase in the purchase of foods containing artificial sweeteners, which may be not as bad as sugar, still carry adverse health effects when consumed in large amounts.
To enforce this tax, independent testing of all products would be required as well as an overhaul of food labelling to identify these foods to the public. Companies which bring in imported foods which have either no food labels or they are written in non-English would also need to have clearer labelling.