Sugar-sweetened beverage levy






Position statement – Health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages 11 members of the Rethink Sugary Drink alliance recommend that the Australian Government introduce a health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages (sugary drinks), as part of a comprehensive approach to decreasing overweight and obesity. Rethink Sugary Drink 2017

The case for an Australian tax on sugar sweetened beverages 

OPC policy position on the case for an Australian tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce consumption

Obesity Policy Coalition


Position statement – Sugar-sweetened beverages

Cancer Council Australia recommends that the Australian Government introduce a targeted health levy on sugar-sweetened beverages, to effect a price increase of at least 20%. This levy should form part of a comprehensive approach to reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, including restrictions on children’s exposure to marketing of these products, restrictions on their sale in schools, other children’s settings, and public institutions, as well as effective public education campaigns.  

Cancer Council Australia



International experience of taxes on food and drinks

World Cancer Research Fund NOURISHING framework highlights where governments need to take action to promote healthy diets and reduce overweight and obesity. The framework is accompanied by a regularly updated table which provides an extensive overview of implemented government policy actions from around the world. See under 'U' for international examples of health related food and beverage taxes. 

Debunking myths about a sugary drink tax

Rethink Partner the Obesity Policy Coalition debunks the industry's myths with the latest evidence in a short video and summary paper.  

Relevant publications

Policy lessons from health taxes: a systematic review of empirical studies
This systematic review of research on health taxes provides insight to whether health levies can: (i) reduce consumption of targeted products and related harms; (ii) generate revenues for health objectives and distribute the tax burden across income groups in an efficient and equitable manner; and (iii) be made politically sustainable.

A sugary drinks tax: recovering the community costs of obesity
This report calls for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The authors recommend an excise tax of 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar on nonalcoholic, sugary drinks. This will increase the price of a two-litre bottle of soft drink by about 80 cents. This tax would raise about $500 million a year, generate a drop of about 15 per cent in consumption of SSBs and likely result in a small decrease in obesity rates, as people switch to water and other drinks not subject to the tax.  
Grattan Institute, November 2016 

The Impact of a Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages on Health and Health Care Costs: A Modelling Study
This paper explores the consequences of an additional 20% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) on health and health care expenditure in Australia. Authors examined the potential impact of a 20% valoric tax on SSBs on total lifetime disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), incidence, prevalence, and mortality of obesity-related disease, and health care expenditure.
Veerman, J. Lennert, et al.PloS one11.4 (2016): e0151460. 2016

Public Opinion on Food-related Obesity Prevention Policy Initiatives
Seventy-one per cent of Austtralian participants surveyed in this study were in favour of a tax on unhealthy food if funds were used to subsidise healthy food, and 69% were in favour of a similar tax levied on soft drink only.
Morley, B. et al Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2012 Aug;23(2):86-91

The impact of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages according to socio-economic position: a systematic review of the evidence
This study aimed to clarify the differential impact(s) of a levy on sugary drinks across socio-economic position (SEP). Based on the available evidence, a sugary drink levy will deliver similar population benefits across all socio-economic positions or greater benefits for lower SEP groups. A levy is shown to be consistently financially regressive, but to a small degree.
Backholer, K., et al. Public Health Nutrition (2016): 1-15

Using price policies to promote healthier diets
This paper examines the economic theory underpinning price policy as a tool to protect health, and explores in more depth the available evidence on the use of taxation and subsidies to influence the purchase and consumption of food.
World Health Organization Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe 2015

In Mexico, Evidence Of Sustained Consumer Response Two Years After Implementing A Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax
Purchases of taxed beverages decreased 5.5 percent in 2014 and 9.7 percent in 2015, yielding an average reduction of 7.6 percent over the study period. Households at the lowest socioeconomic level had the largest decreases in purchases of taxed beverages in both years. Purchases of untaxed beverage increased 2.1 percent in the study period.
Cochero, M. Arantxa, et al. Health Affairs (2017): 10-1377.

Beverage purchases from stores in Mexico under the excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages: observational study
The tax on sugary drinks in Mexico was associated with reductions in purchases of taxed beverages and increases in purchases of untaxed beverages. Continued monitoring is needed to understand purchases longer term, potential substitutions, and health implications.
Colchero A et al.British Medical Journal, November 2015

Impact of sugars and sugar taxation on body weight control: A comprehensive literature review
This review of systematic reviews investigates sugar consumption as a risk factor for obesity. It also explores the link between sugary drink consumption and artificially sweetened drink consumption and risk of obesity specifically and goes on to explore the effect of a tax on sugary drink consumption and on obesity rates.
Besā€Rastrollo, M et al. Obesity, 2016 June 1.

Taxing soft drinks in the Pacific: implementation lessons for improving health 
The authors analysed four different soft drink taxes in Pacific countries and documented the lessons learnt regarding the process of policy agenda-setting and implementation. While local social and political context is critically important in determining policy uptake, these case studies suggest strategies for health promotion practitioners that can help to improve policy uptake and implementation.
Thow, A. M. et al.Health Promotion International, 26 (1), 55–64 2011