Wonder of wonders, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has put a soda tax into his new budget initiative (see BBC account, the video and text of Osborne’s speech, and the Treasury department’s fact sheet on the soda tax).
Here’s how the tax is supposed to work:
Osborne says the tax will bring in £520 million ($732 million) in the first year, and he intends to use it to fund more sports in schools.
But it goes into effect in April 2018. This is to give the industry time to reformulate products with less sugar. But—the delay also gives the industry ample time to block the tax.
Public Health England supports the tax (see statement).
But the soda industry wasted no time reacting to this bad news.
Coke, Pepsi, and other soft drink companies strongly objected.
The immediate result: a fall in their stock prices.
The immediate reaction: Sue the government. On what grounds? Discrimination. The tax does not affect sugary juices, milkshakes, or processed foods.
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