March 2, 2024

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WHO Calls for Increased Taxes on Sugary and Alcoholic Beverages

WHO Calls for Increased Taxes on Sugary and Alcoholic Beverages



WHO Calls for Increased Taxes on Sugary and Alcoholic Beverages

On December 5, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a statement on its official website, urging countries worldwide to raise taxes on beverages containing sugar and alcohol.

According to the WHO, the global tax rates on alcohol and sugary drinks are relatively low, and the organization is advocating for increased taxation on these unhealthy products. The WHO’s research indicates that most countries have not utilized taxation to incentivize healthier lifestyle behaviors.

The press release notes that globally, 2.6 million people die each year due to alcohol consumption, and over 8 million deaths are attributed to unhealthy dietary habits.

The organization believes that taxing alcohol and sugary beverages will reduce these mortality rates.

WHO Calls for Increased Taxes on Sugary and Alcoholic Beverages

The WHO additionally emphasized that among countries taxing sugary beverages, half of them also tax water, a practice the organization does not recommend. The WHO pointed out that although 108 countries currently impose taxes on certain sugary beverages, the average tax rate is only 6.6% of the product price.

Concerning alcoholic beverages, over 148 countries levy consumption taxes on alcoholic drinks at the national level. However, 22 countries, primarily in Europe, exempt wine from consumption taxes. Globally, the proportion of consumption taxes in the prices of the best-selling beer brands is 17.2%, and for spirits, it is 26.5%.

The press release referenced a 2017 study, which suggested that a 50% increase in alcohol prices could help avoid over 210 million deaths in 50 years, generating an additional revenue of nearly 17 trillion dollars. This amount is equivalent to the combined annual government revenue of the world’s eight largest economies.

The document cited Lithuania as an example where an increase in alcohol taxes in 2017 led to a reduction in alcohol-related deaths. The country’s alcohol tax revenue increased from 234 million euros in 2016 to 323 million euros in 2018, and alcohol-related deaths per 100,000 people decreased from 23.4 cases in 2016 to 18.1 cases in 2018.

The WHO also released a policy and management manual on alcohol taxation. Rűdiger Krech, Director of the Department for Health Promotion at the WHO, wrote that taxing unhealthy products promotes a healthier population and triggers a series of positive chain reactions. Taxing alcohol also contributes to preventing violence and traffic injuries, according to Krech.

WHO Calls for Increased Taxes on Sugary and Alcoholic Beverages

The WHO stressed that taxing alcohol and sugary beverages would reduce the consumption of these products, aid in preventing non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and provide businesses with reasons to produce healthier products.

WHO Calls for Increased Taxes on Sugary and Alcoholic Beverages

(source:internet, reference only)


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