In a move that has sent soda giants into a frenzy, British Parliament has officially passed a national tax on sugar-sweetened sodas.
Slated to go into effect in April 2018, the sugar tax will increase the price of soft drinks that contain at least five grams of sugar per 100 milliliters of soda, such as Fanta and Sprite. Drinks that contain eight grams of sugar or more per 100 milliliters will be subject to a higher tax rate.
Aside from Mexico, the United Kingdom is the only nation to institute such a tax. In particular, the tax is aimed at improving the nutritional options available to British children, and to decrease the country’s rate of obesity, which is currently about 25 percent for people aged 16 and older.
In the United States, similar initiatives to tax soda have been unpopular at the national level. Last fall, the Obama Administration declined to introduce a tax on soft drinks as part of its guidelines on healthy eating, despite the Obamas’ long history of work to reform children’s nutrition standards.
In 2015, Coca-Cola helped fund a controversial research initiative that sought to downplay the role of diet in overall health. This project, the Global Energy Balance Network, was later shut down after facing harsh criticism for its dubious research goals.
The British soda tax is estimated to bring in an estimated 520 million pounds (approximately $753 million USD) in its first year, which has been earmarked to benefit British schools, according to the Economist.
Following the passing of the sugar tax, U.K. celebrity chef Jamie Oliver praised the legislation as “a profound move that will ripple around the world,” and a “bold, brave, and logical” decision by British leaders.