New Telegraph

Alcohol, Sugary Beverages Kill 10.6m Yearly

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that globally 10.6 million people die from drinking alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) every year but recommended that implementing a tax on alcohol and SSBs will reduce these deaths.

This is contained in a statement released on Tuesday with new data showing a low global rate of taxes being applied to unhealthy products such as alcohol and SSBs.

The findings highlight that the majority of countries are not using taxes to incentivise healthier behaviours. Consequently, to help support countries WHO is also releasing a technical manual on alcohol tax policy and administration.

Half of all countries taxing SSBs are also taxing water, which is not recommended by WHO. Although 108 countries are taxing some sort of sugar-sweetened beverage, globally, on average excise tax, a tax designated for a specified consumer product, represents just 6.6 per cent of the price of soda.

At least 148 countries have applied excise taxes to alcoholic beverages at the national level. However, wine is exempted from excise taxes in at least 22 countries, most of which are in the European Region. Globally, on average, the excise tax share in the price of the most sold brand of beer is 17.2 per cent. For the most sold brand of the most sold spirits type, it is 26.5 per cent.

A 2017 study shows that taxes that increase alcohol prices by 50 per cent would help avert over 21 million deaths over 50 years and generate nearly US$17 trillion in additional revenues. This is equivalent to the total government revenue of eight of the world’s largest economies in one year.

Research shows that taxing alcohol and SSBs helps cut down the use of these products and gives companies a reason to make healthier products. At the same time tax on these products helps prevent injuries and noncommunicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes and heart diseases.

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