The Dentist Magazine.

Revenue through ‘sugar tax’ falls short of original forecast

Published: 15/03/2017

Responding to the Spring Budget announcement, the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) is cautiously optimistic that it appears the proposed sugar levy on soft drinks has had the desired effect in persuading manufactures to reduce the amount of sugar in their products.

In his Budget statement, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced that the ‘sugar tax’, which was announced during last year’s spring Budget, will raise less funds than originally forecasted because manufactures have been effective in reformulation to remove sugar from their products.

The Chancellor described this as "good news" for children and maintained the Government’s promise that the Education Department will still receive the £1bn originally earmarked from the levy.

The ‘sugar tax’ on soft drinks is due to come into effect in April 2018. It will place an estimated levy on manufactures of 18p per litre for fizzy drinks with total sugar content above 5g per 100ml and 24p per litre for drinks with more than 8g per 100ml.

President of the BSDHT, Helen Minnery, said, “What we appear to have seen here is evidence of positive action from soft drink manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar in their products, which in turn will hopefully see a positive effect on the nation’s oral health.

“Every year, more than 40,000 children have decayed teeth removed under general anaesthetic; this is heart-breaking. It is clear that food and drink manufacturers who produce sugar-filled products have a responsibility to protect their customers and the prospect of a ‘sugar tax’ has finally resulted in them making the necessary changes to address this responsibly.

“We hope that it continues and makes a real difference to the state of the UK’s oral health. We are optimistic that the actions made by manufactures can result in less people entering dental practices, as well as A&E departments, with shocking levels of sugar-related problems.”

The BSDHT have been sustained campaigners when it comes to tackling the food and drinks industry, making manufacturers accountable for the decisions they make, both with the production and marketing of sugary foods and drinks.

In September 2016, following pressure from the BSDHT, Nestlé pulled the series of ‘Smile Factory’ adverts which linked Rowntree’s product with healthy smiles.

Earlier this week, Nestlé took further steps by pledging to remove 10 per cent of sugar from all snacks in UK and Ireland by 2018 – the equivalent of 7,500 tonnes of sugar.

Hammond decided on making no further amends to the sugar tax, despite continued calls from the dental and health profession that the current levy does not go far enough in reducing the nation’s addiction to sugar. 

Helen added, “Despite the pleasing moves made by some manufacturers to cut the amount of sugar in their products, we are disappointed that there seems to be no sustained effort by government to build on the current sugar tax proposals, which falls short when addressing pure fruit juices, milk-based drinks and multi-packs.

“Furthermore, no money from the ‘sugar tax’ has been pledged to treat dental health problems caused by sugar consumption – something we have worked hard alongside dental health organisations to correct since its announcement, but these calls seen to have fallen on deaf ears.”

In other matters relating to oral health in the budget, a new minimum excise duty on cigarettes was announced, based on a packet price of £7.35, however, there was no increase in alcohol or tobacco duties on top of those previously announced. Additionally, a speculated increase in duty on electronic cigarettes, to bring them on a similar level to standard cigarettes, did not emerge.