Non-profit organisation, the Healthy Living Alliance (Heala) is pushing to have sugar tax increased. Heala presented a memorandum with 17 000 signatures to the Treasury in hopes that it would demonstrate mass public support for the cause.

Previously known as The Health Promotion Levy, the sugar tax was originally initiated in 2018. This was to decrease the consumption of carbonated soft drinks.

Now, Heala wants the government to increase sugar tax to 20% from the current 11%, making it nearly double if Heala gets their way. Additionally, they are asking that the tax be extended to include fruit juices which have a high sugar content too.

Lawrence Mbalati, Programmes manager at Heala, told Cape Talk that the government has a responsibility to regulate sugar if an excess of sugar is causing illness in the population.

While some doubt the effectiveness of taxing goods to curb consumption, Mbalati thinks otherwise. “The sugar tax has been implemented in many other countries. We have data, for example, in the UK that demonstrates that a stronger tax will always result in curbing consumption of sugary drinks,” he says.

“For example if we look at tobacco, four people out of ten were smoking when the tax on tobacco, that is incremental every year, was introduced. Now two people out of ten are smoking ,” he added.

In addition to a healthier citizenry, the organisation argues the increase in sugar tax will be good for the economy. They claim the increase may assist with R350-million deficit in South Africa’s budget for health.

There has been no response from the Treasury yet.

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