Italy’s health minister considers tax on unhealthy drinks

Italy’s health minister was considering the inclusion of a tax on drinks that are deemed unhealthy in a spending bill due to go before the Italian cabinet later this week, a health ministry official said this week.

The official confirmed that Health Minister Renato Balduzzi might propose a drinks tax of E0.03 (R0.32) a bottle to raise revenues of E250 million, but did not clarify which beverages would be affected.

“It is a nudge to mothers and fathers towards a more suitable diet,” Balduzzi told the daily La Repubblica.

Balduzzi said that the revenue raised could be used for public health costs.

The official said Balduzzi was gauging public reaction to the suggestion before deciding whether to include the measure in the bill, which aims to reform health spending as the country grapples with a financial crisis and a large debt burden.

France put a tax on soft drinks last year to help combat increasing obesity.

The measure is expected to raise E280m this year.

Legislators in the US have also considered a similar law, but have come up against opposition from the beverage industry.

Nestlé, Coca Cola and the Sanpellegrino Group are key drinks sellers in the Italian market. – Reuters


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