• Increasing taxes on sugary drinks – will it make us healthier?

SSB Lecture

Can the rising epidemic of obesity in the Caribbean be tackled by taxing sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)? How effective is this strategy? Many countries have tried it, including Mexico. In August 2015, the Barbados Ministry of Finance implemented a 10% tax on sugary drinks to help reduce consumption. Dominica has now done the same. But will it really make a difference?

The University of the West Indies is hosting a public lecture, featuring regional and international experts, to explore this critical issue.

SSB Public Lecture FlyerDetails are as follows:
Date: Friday January 20, 2017
Time: 11:00am
Venue: The Solutions Centre
‘Shell Suite’
UWI, Cave Hill Campus

Remarks will be delivered by:
Dr Jean Adams, Senior Research Fellow, University of Cambridge;
Dr Godfrey Xuereb, PAHO/WHO Representative, Barbados; and
Ms Miriam Alvarado, Chronic Disease Research Centre/University of Cambridge.

Please join us!

For more information contact:
Joan Tull
Tel: + 246 233 3770
Email: joan.tull@healthycaribbean.org

Background:
In August 2015, Barbados became the first country in the Caribbean to implement a 10% excise tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Led by the Ministry of Finance, the policy aims to reduce the consumption of SSBs and show that taxation can be used as a key tool in health policy. It also highlights the growing recognition that the non-communicable disease (NCD) response must move beyond the health sector.

A large number of people in the region are obese. In Barbados, these figures are 43% for women and 23% for men. The SSB tax, announced during the 2015 National Budget, was intended to help raise revenue and balance the budget while reducing consumption of drinks that promote an obesogenic environment and contribute to the rise in heart disease, cancers and strokes which has left Barbados on “the verge of a national crisis”, according to the Minister of Finance, Hon. Chris Sinckler.

Using taxation to reduce consumption appears a realistic goal. Recent evidence from Mexico, where an SSB tax of one peso (six cents) a litre was introduced in January 2014, shows a 6% decline in consumption.

The University of the West Indies and the regional civil society organisation, the Healthy Caribbean Coalition, are working with partners to undertake an evaluation of the tax. This exercise is part of the wider evaluation of the 2007 Caribbean Community Port of Spain Declaration on non-communicable diseases.