While sugar taxes have been gaining momentum across a number of countries, they usually focus specifically on sugar-sweetened beverages. Bermuda says its proposed tax will go further to include items such as candies and plain sugar used in items such as baked goods, thus targeting ‘non-nutritive luxury items’.
Marshmallows, white chocolate and energy drinks
A Ministry of Health survey found that 75% of the island’s adult residents are overweight and more than a third of adults are obese. The prevalence of obesity and diabetes is one of the highest among the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) countries.
The Ministry of Health announced plans for a sugar tax in September, and this week has launched a public consultation into the measure.
A number of confectionery products are outlined in the consultation, such as marshmallows, yogurt covered raisins, caramel candy, fondant, nougat and white chocolate. However, chocolate items with cocoa are not being considered for inclusion.
In beverages, sodas, energy drinks, fruit juices with added sugar and sweetened teas would be taxed, while 100% fruit juices and milk-based products would be exempt.
Plain sugar is also included in the plans, with the government viewing this as a “natural inclusion due to the name of the tax, as well as the impact this item has on baked goods etc that lead to unwanted weight gain.”
The tax would be applied to products at their point of importation into Bermuda.
Meanwhile, the policy would eliminate the current 15% customs duty on the importation of water.
Revenue from the tax will be earmarked for initiatives that encourage healthy lifestyles.
The consultation will close on March 1, 2018, with implementation of the tax planned for later this year. The Ministry of Health says the consultation seeks to ‘seek views on the detailed policy design rather than to seek views on alternative proposals’.
The consultation can be found via this link.