Public back calls to extend sugar tax 30 MAY 2020 Most of the British public are in favour of extending the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, as known as the sugar tax. Data collected by the Oral Health Foundation as part of National Smile Month, shows that 61% of the United Kingdom support an expansion of the current sugar tax. Milkshakes, fruit juices, smoothies and alcoholic mixers, which are exempt under the current sugar tax, all received equal backing as possible routes for an extension. A previous report looking into some of the drinks exempt from the sugar tax found that half contain a child’s entire recommended daily sugar intake, which is almost 19g or nearly five teaspoons. Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the Soft Drinks Industry Levy has had a positive impact on the nation’s health and supports calls to extend the sugar tax further. Dr Carter says: “The sugar tax has been a significant success, not only for oral health, but for general health and wellbeing too. The more sugar we can continue to cut from drinks, the healthier our population will be. It will allow more of us to be free of the diseases and conditions linked to sugar, and it will also save the NHS millions every year. "The lack of progress by government to build on the current sugar tax proposals has been extremely disappointing. A blind eye has been turned to addressing pure fruit juices, smoothies and milkshakes. These drinks are crammed with sugar and highly dangerous to a person’s health. “Expanding the sugar tax to include milkshakes, smoothies and fruit juices is a relatively small step but the impact it could have would be enormous.” The sugar tax was introduced two years ago and applies to drinks with more than 8g of added sugar per 100ml. The tax forced manufacturers to lower their sugar content or face a tax rate equivalent to 24p per litre. As a result, many of them did. So much so that the new levy brought £800m less than it was forecast to. Since then, the sugar content of drinks sold has fallen by 21.6% - equating to more than 30,000 tonnes of sugar a year. “The impact that sugar has on teeth is horrific,” adds Dr Carter. “It is why one-in-three adults in the UK have tooth decay and it is the reason why around 35,000 children are admitted to hospital each year. “Whenever you eat or drink anything containing sugars, the enamel and dentine of your tooth is softened. Over time, this create a hole (cavity) in the tooth and leads to tooth decay. “The result is often a filling but in more severe cases it leads to tooth loss.” During National Smile Month, the Oral Health Foundation is challenging you to cut your added sugar intake. The charity says swapping sugary foods and drinks for healthier alternatives is one of the easiest and most satisfying ways you can achieve better oral health. For advice about swapping your sugars, visit the National Smile Month website at www.smilemonth.org Sources Oral Health Foundation (2020) ‘National Smile Month Survey 2020’, April 2020, UK, Sample 2,002.