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An Examination of the Inability of the Current Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages to Elicit Desirable Health Outcomes

In response to the growing concerns about health-related issues associated with sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption, policymakers have turned to imposing taxes on such beverages. These taxes aim to address both health-related internalities and externalities associated with SSB consumption. This policy brief assesses the current volumetric SSB tax regime as introduced under the TRAIN Law beginning 2018. It raises concerns about the current tax regime’s ability to curb SSB consumption and promote desirable health outcomes due to its failure to differentiate across products with significantly different health risks based on sugar content. The paper therefore argues that a sugar content tax regime is more effective in giving consumers price signals that clearly distinguishes between high-sugar, high-risk SSBs and low-sugar, low-risk SSBs. Moving towards a sugar content-based taxation approach, supported by appropriate legislation on consumer education, holds the potential to optimize health outcomes while minimizing unintended consequences.


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