Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP 20:30 p.m., December 05, 2023The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called on governments to increase taxes on sugary and alcoholic beverages, saying that every year 2.6 million people die due to alcohol consumption and more than 8 million due to the consumption of unhealthy products.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday called on governments to increase taxes on sugary and alcoholic beverages, lamenting that too few countries use their taxation to incentivize consumers to give up unhealthy habits. After studying the tax rates for these types of products, the WHO concluded that the average tax rate on "these unhealthy products" was low, and that an increase would improve the health of the population.
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"The WHO recommends that excise duties apply to all sugar-sweetened beverages and alcoholic beverages," said a statement released in Geneva. According to the WHO, 2.6 million people die a year due to alcohol consumption, and more than 8 million due to the consumption of unhealthy products. "Imposing taxes on alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages will reduce these deaths," the WHO said.
108 countries impose taxes on sodas and sugary drinks
This will not only be a deterrent to consumers, but also an incentive to encourage companies to produce healthier beverages. According to the WHO, 108 countries impose taxes on sodas and sugary drinks, but the average tax rate is just 6.6% of the price of a soda. Half of these countries also impose water taxes, which is contrary to WHO recommendations.
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"Taxing unhealthy products improves people's health. It has positive impacts on society, less disease and debility, and sources of revenue for governments to deliver public services," said Rudiger Krech, WHO Director for Health Promotion. "In the case of alcohol, taxes help prevent violence and trauma from road (accidents)," he said. On Tuesday, the WHO published a handbook on alcohol taxation for the organization's 194 member states.
148 countries impose excise duties on alcoholic beverages
A minimum price, combined with a tax, would reduce the consumption of cheap alcohol as well as alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths, traffic violations and crime, according to the manual's recommendations. Some 148 countries impose excise duties on alcoholic beverages. "However, wine is exempt from excise taxes in at least 22 countries, most of them in Europe," the WHO noted. On average, the excise tax on the best-selling beer brand is 17.2 percent, while the excise tax on the most popular brand of the top-selling spirit is 26.5 percent, the WHO said.