Thank God Woodhouse is not in charge of Health as Coleman says “no” to Sugar Tax

Jonathan Coleman has told the health busy-bodies to go stick their suggestions over a sugar tax.

The Government isn’t fazed  by a group of health professors lobbying to introduce a tax on sugary drinks.

A group of more than 70 health academics from various New Zealand universities want more to be done about the country’s high rate of childhood obesity – the fourth highest in the world.

They say the Government’s action plan of “22 soft strategies that was launched last year with no extra funding” won’t do anything to change the problem.

The group is urging Health Minister Jonathan Coleman to implement a “significant tax” on sugary drinks – the number two recommendation that came out of a report by the World Health Organisation Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.

But Coleman says the Government’s position hasn’t changed and the professors are on a “different page”.

“There is still no evidence a tax would actually decrease obesity,” he said.

“There is no simple answer otherwise people would have tried it.”

Coleman will this month travel to Geneva to endorse the Commission’s recommendations and the professors are calling for him to go one step further and implement a tax on sugary drinks.

The group agrees that the “evidence supporting sugary drinks taxes is stronger than the evidence for any of the 22 strategies in the government’s existing plan”.

The professors want Cabinet to introduce a 20 per cent excise tax on sugary drinks, which they say would generate $30-$40 million that could go towards obesity prevention programmes.

Tobacco isn’t like sugar, for a start there is no substitution effect. You either pay the tax or stop smoking.

But what these wombles want is for everyone to pay the tax whether they are a fat bastard or not. That simply isn’t fair on skinny people.

Thankfully it appears Labour is against it too…though it appears no one has told Tamati Coffey about this.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the issue was wider than soft drinks and the country needed “to come to grips with total sugar content” in a number of foods.

At the party’s annual conference in November deputy leader and health spokeswoman Annette King set out plans to make it clear to industry to cut the sugar content in foods but ruled out a sugar tax.

On Sunday Little said getting food producers to label products more carefully and making sure they reduce the sugar content was the priority and if they didn’t co-operate there were other tools.

Coleman said it was telling that Labour aren’t backing a sugar tax either.

The Green lunatics support it though…but when have they ever thought a new tax was a bad idea?

I still believe that a Fat Bastard Tax is the way to go.


– Fairfax


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  • Gaynor

    Soft drinks are 1.4% of total calories consumed in NZ. A sugar tax on soft drinks would do nothing except penalise people who drink soft drinks responsibly.

    • johcar

      …which is what most ‘punitive’ taxes and rules do…

  • Vutekno

    When I look around Parliament during question time I am left with the thought that a “Fat Bastard Tax” will only ever happen when we see pigs fly!

  • Toby

    These people have exactly ZERO understanding of how business works.
    It would be an excise tax which means manufacturers could choose whether to pass it on.
    If Coke had to add 20c to the price of every sugar drink, it would simply spread it across the cost of all drinks including water. It might add 5c to the price of all drinks but it would never in a million years let there be a price difference between ordinary and diet drinks.

    • localnews

      You are exactly right, it is impossible to enforce.
      If coke and sprite have different amounts of sugar, do they pay the same amount of tax or is it levied per gram of sugar? It would be unfair if something that was 5% sugar was taxed the same as something with 60% sugar, as one is worse for you.
      What is to stop coke running promos where if you buy Tim tams you get a free Coke. Does that avoid the tax?
      I would imagine that Coke can afford a few lawyers to run a few scenarios through the courts that might hold things up for a few years.
      Of course Coke could also increase the head office charges that are paid overseas so that their annual tax bill is unchanged by the new tax.
      Moving one of their bottling plants to Australia would take away as much tax as they are hoping to generate.
      The only way for the troughers to progress this one is a hearts and minds strategy where they encourage such companies to promote their sugar free alternatives, they will never win with trying to attack such big companies.
      There are at least 70 people in New Zealand who are too stupid to realise that

  • RobT

    Those who traditionally gulp down their sugary soft drinks will pay the difference and not even flick an eye lid or have a second thought about a difference in the price!
    It will be business as usual for them and the rest of us just get stiffed with an extra tax for our troubles.

    • Crowgirl

      How often have we seen these type of “poor” people lined up for food parcels at City Mission with 1.5L of fizz in their hands to drink while they queue? All this tax will do is force more people to claim they are ‘
      “poor” and need the food parcels.

      Water is pretty much free out of the tap; clearly the issue is not price for these things. I don’t think it’s even a matter of convenience since water is readily accessible just about anywhere.

      It’s really just about taste and lack of education and self-control, and putting a tax on it won’t change that.

  • cows4me

    These people won’t be happy till NZ becomes a proxy state of East Germany, they want total control . They’ll keep pushing for that marvelous utopia where everyone dresses in bubble wrap every morning, drinks distilled water and eats one hard boiled egg for breakfast, has organic egg plant for lunch and mung beans and sugar free muesli for tea. Off to bed at 7.30, alcohol is forbidden as well as smokes, gambling is punishable by death, the state will tell you how spend your money. These do-gooders will not stop till every perceived evil is stamped out and the people are consigned to lives of abject misery and boredom, they should be told to get a life.

    • David Moore

      They are just a rebirth of the temperance society. Puritans who believe all pleasures in life should be controlled or banned.

  • Gravedodger

    How many of Swindlebourns team will have a whole new trough full of money to sup from

  • shykiwibloke

    I suggest we should be looking past the call for the tax at how it would be implemented to find the real reasons for its support. My thoughts are:
    1) Such drinks are largely produced by large US corporates – queue the support from anti American and anti multinationals, anti TPP lobbies.
    2) Where would the tax go? If tobacco and alcohol are the models, then there will be a need to a plethora of studies and an ‘advisory board’ structure to be set up – queue support from academics, board sitters, marketers and every other kind of trougher you can think of.

    That’s why these groups are so vociferous in their support. Follow the money honey….

  • CheesyEarWax

    Finding a problem and its causes is one thing, but recommending a solution is a different thing altogether. Health academics should just stick to the former and leave the latter to someone else.

  • Alan Beresford B’Stard

    20% tax on a product costing around $3 is two thirds of bugger all. I can’t imagine it will dissuade people from buying these drinks, when the price will still be a lot cheaper than healthier options.

  • Woody

    When I saw that Little had said “There were other tools”, I immediately thought “Strong Arm Tactics” followed closely by asking myself who the “tool” was?

    Good to see that there seems to be some consensus with the idea of not imposing a pointless sugar tax.

    I have just finished eating a home grown apple and wondered how that would be taxed.

  • Legallysane

    The problem is bigger than just sugary drinks. I bought some Honeypuffs the other day (a little treat while my wife was away on a girl’s weekend) and was amazed to find the sugar content is 25% by weight – that’s huge! I ate a fair portion, but found that my body and sugar don’t get along too well these days so ended up throwing the balance out to the chooks. The scary part is that the labeling raves on about how it’s a good breakfast for kids because it’s full of fibre, low fat etc, etc. Grossly misleading in my view, and it’s made by Sanitarium of all people. I’m sure if I’d looked closer, it was probably Halal approved as well……

    • David Moore

      Why did you find it amazing? Have you never actually realised what some puffed wheat coated in honey is?

      Did you also look at how much ‘sugar’ was in the milk and find that ‘amazing’?

      • Legallysane

        Yes, New the stuff was full of sugar but didn’t realise exactly how much. The milk, however, was completely unadulerated as it fresh from the cow.

        • David Moore

          But your unadulerated milk has more sugar than the honey puffs……on top of which, what exactly do you think honey is?

          • Legallysane

            I think you may have your wires crossed. According to Wikipedia, the sugar content of milk is 5% – somewhat less than the 25% in Honeypuffs!

          • David Moore

            It’s 87% water, the majority of it’s nutritional value is sugar (assuming skim of course), that makes it 62% sugar roughly. Whole milk is 34% sugar.

            Honey is 98% sugar.

            If your breakfast is a mix of milk, honey and wheat, it should not be in any way a surprise that a large proportion of it is sugar!

          • Legallysane

            By proportion of each consumed, the milk is a minor offender…..

    • johcar

      Rule of thumb:

      If a processed food is touted as “low in fat”, it will be high in sugar.

      If processed food is touted as “low in sugar”, it will be high in fat.

    • hookerphil

      The weight put on by the chooks should make them worth chasing with the axe if they stop laying.

      • Legallysane

        Almost pets so they get to die from natural causes.

  • TLL

    If obesity is the reason to propose the tax, then we should be talking about the overall nutritional guidelines which tell society to eat lots of bread and pasta and limited fats. Perhaps if that was revised we might start to see a change. Sugar tax wont work because its not the problem alone.

    • SJ00

      And whats wrong with eating bread and pasta and limited fats? Are you advocating a low carb diet as the answer to losing weight? Because a high carb low fat diet can also lose weight. Your body needs carbs. Each macro nutrient plays its role and if you say a low carb diet is the answer then you are pushing a high protein and high fat diet and that might work short term but its very hard to maintain.

  • Second time around

    The 70 academics almost certainly didn’t all read what they were signing. They want obesity prevention programmes, but they don’t want the government to fund them directly as a priority. Instead they want them only if they get their sugar tax first. Even then, if people get the message are stop buying sugar beverages, the tax will not be enough to fund anything.

  • kiwisnab

    If these 70 academics wish to make a positive contribution to the obesity epidemic, may I suggest they each take a group 10 people through an exercise regime 3 times a week at the local park – 700 people exercising vigorously. Imagine the change that would make.

  • Pita

    “There is still no evidence a tax would actually decrease obesity,” [Coleman] said…it’s a pity they don’t apply the same logic to climate change.

  • But Coleman says the Government’s position hasn’t changed and the professors are on a “different page”.

    And will continue to be so until a twitter and facebook campaign encourages them to change their minds and rapidly introduce more socialism from the biggest left wing government since Kirk.

  • FornaK

    Have you suggested the aforementioned fat bastard tax to Coleman at all, and if so, what was his response?