France tackles obesity by hiking 'soda tax' on sugary drinks

Ben McPartland
Ben McPartland - [email protected]
France tackles obesity by hiking 'soda tax' on sugary drinks
Photo: AFP

The cost of a can of soda or fizzy drink is expected to rise significantly in France after French MPs overwhelmingly backed a new hike in taxes on sugary beverages.


"The only objective is to boost the health of children and reduce the risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes," said French MP Olivier Veran, who was behind the bill.
The new tax, which is part of the government's 2018 Social Security budget, is an update of the initial "soda tax" that was brought in in 2013.
That levy saw all fizzy drinks with added sugar taxed at €7.5 euros a hectolitre (equal to 100 litres).
But according to MPs it failed to have enough of an impact in persuading drinks makers to cut down on the sugary content of drinks.
French MPs conscious that World Health Organisaton has been advising countries to hike taxes on sugary drinks and that obesity levels are on the rise in France, felt the need to tighten the screw on drinks companies.
Now a sliding scale tax has been introduced that will kick in for drinks that contain 1g of sugar per 100ml.
It will rise to the point where the most sugary drinks will be taxed at €20 a hectolitre for drinks that contain more than 11g of sugar per 100ml.
The move has the support of France's Health Minister Agnes Buzyn who insisted the tax was not a money-making scheme by the government but a "simple reform of a tax to make it more effective".
The tax is just France's latest move to try to tackle obesity by targeting fizzy drinks.
In January this year a new law was brought in that banned free refills of fizzy drinks in restaurants. It specifically states that it's illegal to sell soft drinks at a fixed price for an unlimited amount of drink, and illegal to offer unlimited amounts for free.
France bans unlimited refills of soda drinks to battle bulging obesity levels(Mike Mozart/Flickr)
The ban applies to all soft drinks or soda "fountains" (see pic above) in places open to the public, including fast food-chains and restaurants.
The figures revealed that over the age of 30, some 56.8 percent of French men are overweight or obese and 40.9 percent of French women of the same age also tip the scales as obese or overweight. 

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French senators may yet have a say on the matter, but with the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament having the final word, the tax is expected to come into law.



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