Asia Minute: Singapore: A Ban on Sugary Drinks?

Dec 5, 2018

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A number of countries, cities and counties put an extra tax on sugary drinks. In Hawaii, that policy has been suggested and rejected several times by the legislature. The tax is designed to fight obesity. But one country in the Asia Pacific is considering taking the concept one step further.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health believes the country has a sugar problem. And it’s asking advice from residents about the best way to deal with it.

The most radical proposal on the table: entirely banning the sale of sugary drinks — a step that no other country in the world has taken. The Ministry is targeting soft drinks because it says they account for more than half the daily sugar consumption in Singapore.

It’s asking for public input about several ideas. From pulling sugary drinks off the market to banning advertising for them or forcing producers to include warning labels — like on packs of cigarettes.

The least invasive step would be a tax on the drinks — either a single tax or a tiered approach — the more sugar in the drink, the higher the tax.

Britain started using a tiered tax system for sugary drinks earlier this year.

Several U.S. cities tax sugary drinks — from Boulder and Austin to Seattle and San Francisco. Other countries tax them too — from France and Portugal to India and Brunei.

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Finland has taxed sugary drinks since the 1940’s.

For the last year, a series of different levels of taxes for sugary drinks has been in force in Thailand — which also happens to be the Southeast Asian regional headquarters for Coca-Cola.