WHO commends South African parliament decision to pass tax bill on sugary drinks

The South African Parliament has taken a brave and powerful step towards promoting the health of the country’s citizens and reducing diet-related noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes, by passing a bill yesterday to implement a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, according to Dr. Rufaro Chatora, WHO’s Representative to South Africa.

“I congratulate the Republic of South Africa’s parliament for passing the law to introduce a health promotion levy on sugary drinks in 2018,” says Chatora. “South Africa’s lawmakers must be commended for their steadfastness in the face of immense industry pressure, as well as their foresight and determination to put the health of their citizens before the profits of corporate entities.”

Chatora adds: “By passing this bill, South Africa’s parliament have shown that feasible measures exist to beat NCDs, and is leading the way for other countries in Africa, and around the world, to follow. The sugary drinks tax bill paves the way for South Africa to join the growing global movement of nations using fiscal policies to reduce consumption of unhealthy products while raising sorely needed revenues for social services like universal health coverage.”

South Africa’s sugary drinks tax is scheduled to be implemented on 1 April 2018 and will lead to an estimated 11 per cent increase in the price of a regular can of soft drink.

More than 30 countries have either introduced a tax on sugary drinks or, like South Africa, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Arab Emirates, passed legislation to implement such a fiscal policy. A larger group of countries, including the Philippines, Antigua, Nepal and Seychelles, are considering introducing a tax on sugary drinks.

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