Your can of cola is about to get more expensive... but will a sugar tax work for Ireland? 5 years ago

Your can of cola is about to get more expensive... but will a sugar tax work for Ireland?

There is an impending levy on fizzy drinks - and it's already proving pretty divisive.

On one hand, and with Ireland's childhood obesity rate sprillaling, the arrival of the so-called sugar tax will force us to take a cold, hard look at our diets - and that's something to applaud.


On the other hand, however, not only are our weekly shopping bills going to get more expensive, but critics say that this is another example of overeager Nanny State tactics. Tactics that in other countries, have proved largely ineffective.

We already know that the levy will be landing in about a year's time; Minister Michael Noonan announced in last October's budget that it was firmly in the pipeline. Public consultation on the matter has now also taken place.

What we don't know, however, is how much this tax is going to impact on our pockets.


Which is why movement across the water is of particular interest.

Addressing the British parliament last week, Chancellor Phillip Hammond said the introduction of a levy on sugary drinks is a "good thing for our children".

Much like the thinking in Leinster House, the move is part of an attempt to combat obesity in the UK.


In his budget statement, Mr Hammond said the money raised will go directly to the Department For Education to help fund school sports - a concept which has been touted on home-soil too.

Of significance is the cost to the consumer: drinks with more than 5g of sugar per 100mls will be taxed at 18p per litre. Meanwhile, beverages with more than 8g per 100mls will be slapped with a sugar tax of 24p per litre.

After the UK put concrete plans in place, HerFamily got in touch with the Department of Health for an update.

In response, a spokesperson referred us to their working paper from October 2016: it lays out proposals on how to tackle the issues of childhood and adult obesity by reducing the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks.


They also outlined that the matter is now on the desk at the Department of Finance, which completed its public consultation in January.

So it seems to be full-steam ahead. But will it even work?

According to the Guardian, Denmark introduced a tax on foods high in saturated fat in 2011. Just a year later, however, it abolished it - furthermore dropping plans for a sugar tax. Authorities there stated that the move had only encouraged consumers to cross the border into Germany and, more importantly, it had failed to change eating habits.

Still, in Mexico (a nation famous for its love of Coca-Cola), the sugar tax approach has certainly been more successful: there was a 5.5 percent drop in consumption in the first year after introduction (2014), following by an even more impressive 9.7 percent decline in year two.


Health authorities are fully on board: they have been calling for a tax on all sugary drinks for some time, with the Royal College Of Physicians warning that waiting even another year would be a huge mistake on Ireland's part.

With one year still to go until our sugar tax, it's probable that in the future more and more unhealthy foods and drinks will be slapped with similar penalties.

How effective any of it will be remains to be seen.