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Monarch Update
Monarch Update

Sweets with sugar free tax ??

There's lots in the press about bringing in a sugar tax. I have quite a bit of doubt about the wisdom of this tax.

One of the main features of the proposal as presented by Jamie Oliver seems to be a surcharge on fizzy drinks. As restaurants have to provide tap water free of charge there is already an alternative to "pop" and if Mr Oliver felt really strongly about it he could stop selling all such drinks. There is a precedent for this type of policy as there are already restaurants that voluntarily refuse to serve certan endangered species of fish or foi gras which is considered to be cruel.

We tax tobacco and alcohol quite heavily and it hasn't stopped the over-consumption of these items. It was the smoking ban in pubs and the workplace that made the big difference. The retail trade is likely to respond to any extra tax on high sugar items by changing pack sizes to disguise the increase in price.

Fizzy drinks are only part of the problem of too much sugar in the diet and the bit that's easiest to avoid - "milk or water anyone?" The tricky bit is the sugar that is added to so many of our everyday foods. Not just the well documentd ugar in tomato ketchup or soup but sugar in unexpected places like gravy or spiced chicken wings with sugar in the coating. However, the sugar in proper jam is an essential ingredient in proper jam because it acts as a preservative.

Our tax system is already far too complicated. A sugar tax would make it even more so and introduce more anomalies. Firstly "sugar" would have to be defined; honey, agave nectar, maple syrup etc are all forms of sugar and should be included but there would be almost certainly be those who would lobby for them to be deemed to be healthy and therefore excluded from any tax. How will we tax the sugar in your cappuccino, flat white or milk shake? The politicians and lawyers will have a field day sorting it all out.

There is no simple answer. Somehow we have to take responsibility for our own health and educate ourselves and our families to eat sensibly.  Reducing the sugar in our diet needn't mean depriving ourselves of any treats.



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