Pub­lic smok­ing ban plan

UN health body wants higher prices for soda

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

The UN’s health agency has rec­om­mended coun­tries use tax to in­crease the price of su­gary drinks like so­das, sport drinks and even fruit juices as a way to fight obe­sity, di­a­betes and tooth de­cay.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion ( WHO), in a state­ment timed for World Obe­sity Day yes­ter­day, said the preva­lence of obe­sity world­wide more than dou­bled be­tween 1980 and 2014, when nearly 40 per cent of peo­ple glob­ally were over­weight.

In a 36-page re­port, WHO on obe­sity and fis­cal pol­icy also cited “strong ev­i­dence” that sub­si­dies to re­duced prices for fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles can help im­prove di­ets.

It said that tax poli­cies that lead to a 20 per cent rise in the re­tail price of su­gary drinks would re­sult in a pro­por­tional re­duc­tion in con­sump­tion. Draw­ing on lessons from cam­paigns to fight to­bacco use, WHO said im­pos­ing or in­creas­ing taxes on su­gary drinks could help lower con­sump­tion of sugars, bring­ing health ben­e­fits and more in­come for gov­ern­ments such as to pay for health ser­vices. The health agency has long rec­om­mended that peo­ple keep in­take of sugar to less than 10 per cent of their to­tal en­ergy needs. “Con­sump­tion of free sugars, in­clud­ing prod­ucts like su­gary drinks, is a ma­jor fac­tor in the global in­crease of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from obe­sity and di­a­betes,” says Dr Dou­glas Bettcher, who heads WHO’s depart­ment for pre­vent­ing non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases.

“If gov­ern­ments tax prod­ucts like su­gary drinks, they can re­duce suf­fer­ing and save lives.”

WHO of­fi­cials say the US is no longer the lead­ing con­sumer of sug­ar­sweet­ened bev­er­ages – Chile and Mex­ico are now in front. They also noted rapid in­crease in con­sump­tion like China and sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. At least three in five ado­les­cents in coun­tries such as Chile, Ar­gentina and Al­ge­ria con­sume soft drinks daily.

“Tax­a­tion poli­cies can be a very im­por­tant tool – just one tool among many – but a very im­por­tant tool for the re­duc­tion of sugar-sweet­ened bev­er­ages,” said Dr Francesco Branca, who heads WHO’s Depart­ment for Nu­tri­tion and Health. He pointed to “pi­o­neer­ing” ef­forts by Michael Bloomberg, dur­ing his time as mayor of New York, and other US of­fi­cials to re­duce sugar con­sump­tion.

Temo Waqani­valu, co­or­di­na­tor of WHO’s depart­ment for the preven­tion of non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, said “dis­cus­sion is on­go­ing” with com­pa­nies be­hind such bev­er­ages on ef­forts to re­duce sugar con­sump­tion. Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is turn­ing to an­other bat­tle aside from il­le­gal drugs – smok­ing. Health Sec­re­tary Paulyn Ubial said she hopes the pres­i­dent can sign the draft ex­ec­u­tive or­der ban­ning smok­ing in pub­lic na­tion­wide be­fore the end of the month. The depart­ment is push­ing for the ban to start be­fore the law pro­vid­ing for graphic health warn­ings on to­bacco prod­ucts is fully im­ple­mented on Novem­ber 4, Ubial told a Se­nate bud­get hear­ing. Duterte or­dered a 100 per cent smoke-free en­vi­ron­ment in pub­lic places sim­i­lar to Davao, the south­ern city where he was for­merly mayor, she added. Des­ig­nated smok­ing ar­eas are to be out­doors and away from the pub­lic, and prov­inces and towns will be asked to is­sue or­di­nances to en­force the smok­ing ban and set penal­ties. She also said e-cig­a­rettes will be in­cluded in the ban.

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