Boris Johnson says he will review whether the sugar tax actually improves health if he becomes Prime Minister.
Mr Johnson says he will review whether ‘stealth sin taxes’ are successful in changing behaviour or disproportionately affect poorer consumers.
‘If we want people to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, we should encourage people to walk, cycle and generally do more exercise,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called “sin taxes” really are.
‘And if they actually change behaviour.
‘Once we leave the EU on 31 October, we will have a historic opportunity to change the way politics is done in this country.
‘A good way to start would be basing tax policy on clear evidence.’
This latest announcement has been met with disappointment from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).
It claims the sugar tax has already been shown to be effective with many soft drinks manufacturers reformulating products.
The government claimed in 2017 the expected revenue from the tax had to £275m due to this reformulation.
‘We are seriously disappointed with the news that Boris Johnson has said he will review taxes on products high in salt, fat and sugar, with a view to halt the sugar levy,’ Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of the RSPH, said.
‘Evidence shows that the sugar levy has worked.
‘Nearly half of the soft drinks market has reduced the sugar in their products to avoid charges.
‘There is overwhelming public support for reformulation.
‘This is a short sighted proposal.
‘We do hope that this decision hasn’t been influenced by sweet talking from the food industry.
‘We would urge Boris Johnson to reconsider.’
Despite Boris Johnson’s pledge, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is planning on extending the sugar tax to include milkshakes.
Mr Hancock’s plans also include a ban on the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.
Previously MPs ruled out a ban on the sale of energy drinks to children due to a lack of evidence.
‘Dentists see the devastating impact energy drinks are having on children’s oral health every day,’ BDA chair, Mick Armstrong, said.
‘It’s bizarre we are still having this debate over products that are habit forming, highly acidic and can come laced with 14 teaspoons of sugar – far more than a can of coke.
‘No PR blitzes or reformulations can distract from the fact industry views children as a target market for these drinks.
‘If the government is even half serious about prevention they will take them off the menu.’