The impact of WHO food and drink taxes on a typical household


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  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on governments to raise the price of sugar-sweetened beverages by twenty per cent and to increase taxes on alcohol. It also supports taxes on food that is high in sugar, salt and/or fat. Michael Bloomberg, a WHO Ambassador, has set up the Task Force on Fiscal Policy to lobby for such taxes.

  • ‘Sin taxes’ of this kind raise the cost of living and are financially regressive. If all food and drink products that WHO regards as ‘unhealthy’ were subject to a twenty per cent tax, the cost of a typical basket of goods would rise by £458 a year in the UK, $612 a year in the USA, €546 a year in Italy and €607 a year in Ireland.

  • The overall cost to consumers each year could be £12.4 billion in the UK, $72 billion in the USA, €13.5 billion in Italy, and €1 billion in Ireland.

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Head of Lifestyle Economics, IEA

Christopher Snowdon is the Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA. He is the author of The Art of Suppression, The Spirit Level Delusion and Velvet Glove; Iron Fist. His work focuses on pleasure, prohibition and dodgy statistics. He has authored a number of papers, including "Sock Puppets", "Euro Puppets", "The Proof of the Pudding", "The Crack Cocaine of Gambling" and "Free Market Solutions in Health".