Finally some countries have the courage to go after sugar.
From the CBC The National tonight....
Adding a bitter note to sweet drinks. Ireland's Coca Cola lovers -- as well as those who can choke down a can of McDaids Exotic Pineapple -- will have to reach deeper into their pockets today, as the Republic becomes the latest country to impose a tax on sugary drinks.
The new levy adds 20 euro cents a litre to the price of drinks containing between 5 and 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres, and 30 cents per litre to beverages with greater amounts of sugar -- like Coke.
The Irish government hopes that the move will help reduce childhood obesity rates. But it will have a sizeable side benefit -- pulling in an estimated €40 million a year in new revenue.
World Health Organization data ranks Irish men as the eighth-heaviest in Europe, with 63.1 per cent classified as overweight or obese, just behind Poland and Romania. Irish women ranked 10th, with 48.5 per cent deemed too heavy, sandwiched between Hungary and Slovenia.
Overall, the WHO says roughly 50 per cent of men and women in Europe are overweight.
Ireland becomes the 30th nation to impose a sugar tax since Mexico blazed a trail in 2014. It joins its EU counterparts France, Finland and Hungary.
The United Kingdom introduced its own similar levy in early April, a measure that is expected to bring in an extra £520 million a year, which the government has pledged to use to fund sports in primary schools.
South Africa and Estonia will soon bring sugar taxes into force. Seven major U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle have also enacted their own anti-sugar duties.
The Irish Beverage Council, the lobby group that represents soft-drink makers, is unenthusiastic about the change, calling it unnecessary since three-quarters of the sodas sold in the country fall under the 5-gram sugar threshold.
But proponents point to Mexico's experience, where pop consumption dropped 12 per cent in the first year, and Hungary, where manufacturers quickly reduced sugar levels in their drinks by 40 per cent.
The World Health Organization says that the taxes work just the same as tobacco levies, by discouraging consumption.
The are calls for a similar strike against sugary drinks here in Canada, with the Heart and Stroke Foundation estimating that a 20 per cent tax would prevent 449,000 cases of obesity and 7,800 deaths over the next 25 years. It would also bring in $29 billion in tax revenue, and provide a further $16 billion in health care savings.
Other groups, like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, oppose such measures, calling them ineffective and saying they disproportionately target the poor and encourage cross-border shopping.
Ottawa did look at including a soda tax in the 2016 budget, but backed away.
But even if Ireland's new levy ends up helping the kids, it may not do much for the adults. The country's signature drink, Guinness beer, which contains a whopping 18.6 grams of sugar per pint, is not affected by the tax.