UN's health body calls for higher taxes on alcohol, sweet drinks

10 Dec 2023 12:00pm
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

GENEVA - Higher taxes on alcohol and sugary drinks could help cut the more than 10 million deaths a year resulting from their consumption, the World Health Organisation said in Geneva on Tuesday.

The UN health body published a technical manual on alcohol tax policy and administration as a practical guide to policymakers, along with analysis of policy in various countries around the world, reported dpa news.

It put current consumption taxes on beer at 17.2 per cent for the most common brands, and at 26.5 per cent for spirits, and said these were too low.

Taxes raising the price of alcohol by 50 per cent could help prevent the deaths of 21 million people over 50 years, according to a 2017 study, the WHO said.

"These taxes are considered win-win-win policies because they save lives and prevent disease while advancing health equity and mobilizing revenue for the general budget," the WHO said.

While there are alcohol taxes in 148 countries, wine is exempt in 22, most of them in Europe, it noted.

"Excise taxes are the most effective tax measure for promoting health because they change the price of a harmful product relative to other goods and can be easily increased over time," the WHO said.

The tax should be based on the quantity of an unhealthy ingredient, such as alcohol or sugar, rather than on the product's value, it said. - BERNAMA

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