Sugar’n’spice and all things tax
IN 2014/15, Australian consumers tipped $3.7 billion dollars into Coca-cola Amatil’s bank account by tipping soft drink (and other products) into themselves.
The mega ‘soda’ giant’s taxable income was $438 million and they ultimately paid $123 million in tax.
A sugar tax of an extra 20 cents would bring in - across the industry - around $500 million but what’s the point?
Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are the main drivers behind the health industry’s call for something to be done about the over consumption of drinks laden with the fat producing ingredient sugar, to ease the long term economic and social impacts of diseases in the making.
Given the amount of marketing a company like Coco-cola Amatil would spend on sexing up their brand in opposition to a tax imposed in the non-barnaby Joyce future it stands to reason they’ll find ways to maintain that billions-of-dollars grip on the beverage market. Barnaby does have a point however. Simply don’t give your kids soft drinks. It is that simple. We love to spoil our kids, but sugar makes them fat and sugary drinks puts kids’ health in danger and can hardly be called a ‘special treat’.
“Would you like a glass of teenage obesity, Sweetheart? “Ice with your first heart attack?” It all depends on how you spin it. Just like the soft drink companies do.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where Coca-cola was used as a windscreen bug-off solution due to its excellent corrosive qualities and ability to dissolve the blood and guts of smacked-on beetles and grasshoppers so it never occurred to me to actually seek it out as a drink.
It’s not like the facts aren’t right under our noses either.
According to Kidney Health Australia CEO and managing director, Anne Wilson, any child drinking a 600ml bottle of soft drink consumes 15 teaspoons of sugar. Over a year, a daily bottle costs $900 and equates to 23kg of sugar. That’s 50.7 pounds. “As a regular behaviour, this raises major health concerns and exposures to health problems including high risk factors for chronic kidney disease,” she has said.
“That Sugar Movie” does a great job of spelling out just how poisonous the effects of sugar are on the human body and of course it’s not just sugary drinks that are the culprit but many foods which use sugar to replace fats removed so they can be marketed as low fat.
In the short term, excessive sugar consumption can cause headaches, chronic tiredness, brain fog, irritability, bloating and weight gain and in the long term type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
It also ruins our ability to know when we’re full.
While the onus is on parents and carers to not give these beverages to children, keeping it out of easy reach in schools for example, is another way of combatting obesity and Type 2 diabetes far more than another tax would.
According to the Australian Health Tracker released earlier this year by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC) almost 30 per cent of young Australians are overweight or obese making us one of the fattest nations on the planet and we hear this message over and over but the best we can do is keep talking about it.
Surely any government’s going to drag the chain on action sitting on a steady income of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax already.
It’s not enough to say ‘please tell them to stop marketing and selling their death in a can drinks or making us pay more for them’. You have to go cold turkey. Or if you’re a young parent now, just simply don’t deal sugary drinks to your kids ever so they don’t develop the habit. Save them. We hammer our kids to just say no to drugs because they’re catastrophically bad for your brain, body, sanity and life. Why not sugary drinks? Taxing sugary drinks to attempt to impact rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes has been trialled France, Mexico, Britain and California since 2012. It’s a World Health Organisation approved move in line with taxing smoking (Pigovian taxation).
But again in 2014/15 British American Tobacco made $4.6 billion dollars from Australian cigarette sales and paid $307 million in tax.
Phillip Morris made $3.2 billion gross, had a taxable income of $746 million and paid $223 million in tax.
Not sure tobacco tax is working to prevent cancer quite the way it intended because clearly someone’s still chugging on those smokes in a very lucrative way for BAT and Phillip Morris and the government.
Imagine a future where kids don’t consume 154 litres a year of soft drinks, as they do in the USA on average.
One upside is they’re not paying per litre the equivalent in petrol prices for soft drinks. See John Ryan’s comments in the fuel pricing chasm between Wellington and Dubbo inside.