Sin Taxes: The Devil Is In The Detail
Finweek English|10 September 2020
Sin Taxes: The Devil Is In The Detail
Suggestions that higher sin taxes will create a less sinful society may be well-intentioned, but can easily lead to worse outcomes, not better.
Johan Fourie

We all consume way too much sugar than is good for us. I’ve tried hard to reduce my own sugar intake over the last two years, and, I thought, quite successfully, until a friend recently pointed out the sugar content of Mrs. Ball’s chutney and All Gold tomato sauce – staples in the Fourie household. He won’t be invited for dinner again.

But the consequences of our overindulgence is no joke. Excess sugar consumption is linked to a range of diet-related diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In South Africa, these issues are of particular concern. The 2016 South African Demographic and Health Survey finds that 68% of women, 31% of men, and 13% of children are overweight or obese. The National Income Dynamic Survey exposes the large gender gap for the poor: while only 4% of men in the poorest income quintile is obese, 31% of women in the same quintile are. That is why obesity-related diseases are among the top causes of death in the country; its prevalence only rivalled by HIV/Aids.

Most of these sugars come from what we drink. The World Health Organization recommends that a male adult should consume no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day; a 330ml can of Coca-Cola contains eight. Such soft drinks are a particularly large contributor to dietary sugar among the young, the poor, and those with high overall dietary sugar intake.


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10 September 2020