UK sugar tax has removed 45,000 tonnes of sugar from shelves, says government

Will UK sugar tax be extended to milk drinks?

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/mindstyle
Pic:getty/mindstyle

Related tags: Uk, sugar tax

The UK government is considering extending its sugar tax to milk drinks: with the announcement made just before the confirmation of Boris Johnson – who has pledged a review of ‘nanny state sin taxes’ – as the country's next Prime Minister.

The UK government report – ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’ – was published yesterday (July 22). It says the UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) has been ‘hugely successful’ in removing sugar from drinks, reporting that the equivalent of 45,000 tonnes of sugar has been removed from shelves.

It also says the tax may be extended to milk drinks, which are currently excluded​ from the tax.

But in the run up to the Tory leadership result, Boris Johnson pledged to review ‘sin taxes’​ such as the SDIL and its potential extension to sugary milk drinks, criticising 'nanny state' style measures.   

Boris Johnson will become Prime Minister tomorrow, following the resignation of Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party and subsequent leadership contest. His appointment was announced today. 

Johnson questions the effectiveness of 'sin taxes' and says no new taxes will be introduced until a review is complete. 

The UK’s Soft Drinks Industry Levy adds a charge of up to 24p per litre to sugary drinks, depending on their sugar content. It has been credited with encouraging reformulation among soft drinks manufacturers to lower the sugar content of their drinks, as well as boosting the presence of sugar-free alternatives.​ 

UK government report: Advancing our health - prevention in the 2020s

The report, published via the Cabinet Office and Department of Health & Social Care yesterday, says the tax has been responsible for removing the equivalent of more than 45,000 tonnes of sugar from shelves, and adds the tax may be extended to milk drinks.

Milk drinks have been excluded from the tax to date. However, the government notes that these drinks can also contribute to sugar and calorie intakes, particularly given some of the larger portion sizes available.

Therefore, if the evidence shows that industry has not made enough progress on reducing sugar, we may extend the SDIL to sugary milk drinks,” ​says the report. 

The document can be found here.

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