Sugar Taxes – something to consider?

There is regular debate regarding the effectiveness of a sugar tax to curb the obesity problem in New Zealand, and there’s a lack of consensus on whether such a tax may be beneficial, yet sugar taxes are nothing new. Here’s a little history.

100 years ago, in 1919, with the First World War nearing conclusion, politicians in the United States decided that taxing ice-cream sodas, sundaes, juices, lemonades and other sugary drinks would offset the tax revenue lost from alcohol sales once the nationwide prohibition came into effect.

However, one year after introduction of the sugar tax, following the conclusion of the war, the tax was scrapped. The USA still faced record levels of war debt, yet the soda tax was so unpopular with the American people that it wasn’t a viable option.

Although the 1919 soda tax did not have health objectives in mind, it is reasonable to conclude that soda was not something the American people wanted their politicians messing with.

Published autumn 2019.

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