‘An elitist project for the upper middle-class!’ – Campaigner takes aim at sugar ‘sin tax’

The comments were made by Christopher Snowden, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs. He also argued these taxes disproportionately effect “people on low incomes”. The UK’s sugar tax on soft drinks came into effect in April last year.

Speaking to Mr Snowden commented: “These taxes do hit people on low incomes the hardest.

“I think if you want to pick up the votes of moderate working people you don’t want to be clobbering them with this patronising nanny state stuff, nor do you want to be clobbering them with sin taxes.

“Very little of the campaigning for it comes from the grassroots.

“This is fundamentally an elitist project with the upper middle-classes trying to reform the rest of society and push their values and preferences onto the rest of us.”

During the Conservative leadership campaign Boris Johnson vowed to review what he termed ‘sin taxes’.

However his administration, which has a working Parliamentary majority of just one, is currently focusing on Brexit.

Mr Snowden suggested the new Prime Minister will take some action in this area.

He asserted: “My optimistic suspicion is that he will basically follow through with this.

“I would be surprised if he repeals anything but I would also be surprised if he carries on with this nanny state juggernaut much more.

“He’s signalled that he wouldn’t extend the sugar tax to milkshakes so that’s encouraging but who knows really.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of votes in it for him to carry on more and more lifestyle regulation.

“I suspect there are quite a lot of votes in him standing up and saying no and I think at heart he doesn’t agree with this extreme micromanagement of people’s lives.”

The Government said it introduced the sugar tax, or soft drinks industry levy, to combat obesity particularly amongst the young.

In April 2018 then public health minister Steve Brine said: “The Soft Drinks Industry Levy is ground-breaking policy that will help to reduce sugar intake, whilst funding sports programmes and nutritious breakfast clubs for children.

“The progress made so far on our obesity plan is promising—but with one in three children still leaving primary school overweight or obese, we have not ruled out doing more in future.”

TV chef Jamie Oliver has been a prominent supporter of the sugar tax.

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