Soft Drinks Make Bad Law



A sugar tax to ‘tackle obesity’ is among proposals being considered by the government

Further to renewed calls today for a  tax on ‘sugar sweetened’ drinks.

Eamon Delaney, at the  Hibernia Forum writes:

The Sugar tax proposal is yet another nanny state measure which benefits politicians and the tax collector but doesn’t address the problem it says it does. This ineffective measure uses a sledgehammer inflationary approach and focuses on the wrong area.

We absolutely need to address the growing problem of obesity but this should be done through education, more exercise, less car dependency etc and not just by singling out one product for a punitive financial penalty..

The reality is that sugar taxes don’t reduce obesity and are regressive…

…The obesity problem requires a multi-faceted approach

Soft drinks companies have been active on this issue. In Ireland they say they have increased their marketing spend on no and low sugar options by 80% over the last five years, are not marketing and advertising any beverages to children under 12s, and say they are committed to reformulation

The beverage industry is leading on addressing obesity through a mix of effective measures. Reformulation of sugar sweetened beverages in Ireland has already resulted in a 10% reduction in energy – 15% when the shift towards low and no calorie drinks is included.

They are also reviewing their marketing practices to ensure advertising in a responsible manner, including increasing public awareness on consumption and nutrition.

In fairness, they are committed to doing more, including continuing to accelerate their low calories beverages; aggressive reformulation of their products; and introducing new products with reduced calories.

While obesity rates are rising in Ireland, between 2000 and 2012 the sales of sugar sweetened beverages fell by 21% (sparkling sugar sweetened beverages fell by 28% in the same period).

So what is this about? Why would a sugar tax change this?

Sugared per caps have dropped by 28% since 2003, while lights/waters have grown from 25.7% to 31.9%

With sparkling soft drinks contributing just 3% of total calorie intake in the Irish diet, a tax would be both ineffective in helping to combat obesity and unfair to consumers who would face additional costs.

Lastly we should remember two things:

1. That there’s already a tax on sugary drinks, vat at 23%, and

2. Vat was increased from 21% to 23% and it had no effect on demand for those sugary drinks.



Fight Obesity Through Education And Exercise, Not With Another Tax (Eamon Delaney, Hibernia Forum)

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91 thoughts on “Soft Drinks Make Bad Law

      1. louislefronde

        …Blame it on the soft drinks…but don’t mention the McDonalds, the KFC, Pizza and all the other stuff the parents feed their kids.

        Let’s be frank, the ‘sugar tax’ is another con-job conceived to steal money out of your pocket.

        1. Frenchfarmer

          It’s not sugar that causes obesity. It is caused by modern short stalk, high yield wheat (which is the equivalent of a Ferrari with a tractor engine and a Land Rover suspension being sold as an original Ferrari).
          Wheat has been so crossbred that it is no longer wheat.
          Trust me..I’m a farmer.
          Try 3 days with no wheat then tell me I’m wrong.

          Here’s a good website:-

          1. Frenchfarmer

            It’s not sugar that causes obesity. It is caused by modern short stalk, high yield wheat (which is the equivalent of a Ferrari with a tractor engine and a Land Rover suspension being sold as an original Ferrari).
            Wheat has been so crossbred that it is no longer wheat.
            Trust me..I’m a farmer.
            Try 3 days with no wheat then tell me I’m wrong.

            Here’s a good website:-

            And replacing sugar with aspartame just gives you depression and nerve damage as it was originally created as a nerve poison to kill ants.

  1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

    Maybe if the law made them put how many spoons of sugar are in their drink, prominently on the front, that might help?

  2. the florist

    yeah and another thing, forcing us to wear seat belts in cars more government over reach and don’t get me started on draconian laws about drink driving laws.

    1. Andy

      Seat belts save lives.
      Increasing the tax on soft drinks does not.
      Why not just make soft drinks illegal like not wearing a car seat?

  3. Brother Barnabas

    Would be lovely if Eamon could tell us whether he has *any* financial motivation for holding this view.

    1. Nigel

      It’s also providing those parents with a certain amount of support and relief by countering the relentless onslaught of advertising and overwhelming ubiquity of sweets and soft drinks in shops – which does include education, yes.

        1. Nigel

          Depending on how old you are I’d say the marketing budgets and product ranges and shelf frontage have all risen slightly since then. But good on them.

          1. ReproBertie

            Many supermarket chains have moved sweets away from the tills and it’s much easier to get ad-free children’s TV nowadays.

          1. Steph Pinker

            25p… 25 PENCE? Clampers! That was luxury! We used to have to get out of the lake at three o’clock in the morning, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, go to work at the mill every day for tuppence a month, come home, and Dad would beat us around the head and neck with a broken bottle, if we were LUCKY!

          2. mildred st. meadowlark

            You lucky, lucky bastard! They only hung me the right way up last week! Oh, the Romans must looove you!

        2. noc

          That’s not really the point though ReproBertie. Not everyone is equipped to withstand the constant overt and subliminal onslaught of food marketing. That’s precisely why it is effective and why the food and drinks industry spends millions on advertising. Their motivation is to make a product as attractive as possible (to the point of being almost addictive), to imprint awareness of the product on people’s consciousness and give them an irrepressible urge to buy and consume it. That’s where their interest ends. But failing to curb this activity through regulation (and that’s the only way it can be curbed) is extremely bad for our collective health and for that of the planet (over-farming, decrease in diversity of land usage, food engineering being used in negative ways, too much use of pesticides etc.).

          Tackling the vested interests in the food industry to make them act responsibly (usually in a way that is contrary to the profit motive so counter-intuitive for them) is going to be the same as tackling the tobacco industry though on an even greater scale, because everyone eats.

          1. St. John Smythe

            F£&k it I’m going to come off here as sneering but I partially come from this kind of background so here goes:
            Also do you think a whole group in our society bright up to only concentrate on basic and easily attained luxuries and thrills (the smartphone, the smokes, the few pints on Friday) and only consider very short term ambitions (a pay check at the weekend, getting a house near the parents) will swap the easy solution of instant child gratification for the long whiny read of rearing a well-balanced child? Being a parent is hard enough for those with social advantage, an experience of longer term planning, education and self-esteem bolstered since their own childhood.

    2. Harry Molloy


      And the education is there, has been for quite some time. It seems it’s often the easier option to give em what they want rather than listen to screaming.

      Not sure what the solution is, maybe it’s time to begin explicitly calling out what bad parenting is and make it a social faux pas.

  4. Anomanomanom

    Tax want really stop people buying drinks. Maybe a penalty for parents who obese kids, I don’t mean normal child hood puppy fat that some get, I mean fat to the stage of it being unhealthy

  5. Clampers Outside!

    “sparkling sugar sweetened beverages fell by 28% in the same period” …which completely ignores the huge growth smoothies….

    An Innocent smoothie will give you 34g of sugar per bottle… apparently the equivalent of 3.5 donuts
    This list has a load of ‘healthy’ drinks full of sugar that Mr Delaney is ignoring…. (dailymail link, sorry) –

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Too right….has he looked at the amount of sugar in a bottle of ketchup?

      On this topic, did anyone see Michael’s Moore frivolous though intriguing look at school dinners in French schools, in ‘Where to Invade Next’? Not a coke and chocolate-filled vending machine to be seen…wonderful.

      1. noc

        That’s an important point SpaghettiHoop (I hope you don’t eat too many of those *wags finger*).
        What people often forget in their haste to castigate those frightful parents, is that, when parents are both working, often the kids are eating food that the parents have no real control over. It’s hard for parents to tackle a school or child-minding facility as they fear their child could be ‘punished’ by being treated unkindly in their absence. And parents are lied to. The meals their kids are given are usually made of the cheapest ingredients e.g. frozen chicken nuggets instead of chicken, packet curries that are probably loaded with sauce, fishfingers instead of fresh fish, sweetened pasta sauces out of a jar with white pasta and rice instead of wholemeal etc. Sometimes you’re fighting an uphill battle trying to introduce your kid to healthy food when it’s undermined by creches etc. feeding them sweetened rubbish because the fussiest eater in the group will eat it without complaint. In a sense I can’t blame these places – they’ve their bottom lines to think of, probably aren’t paying their ‘chefs’ much and can’t stand over every child to make them eat their veg. But it’s another problem parents are up against.

  6. jimmy russell

    ugh this is nothing but facist fat shaming there is no links between obesity and a diet high in sugars we need to have more fat acceptance in schools an colleges there is a pervasive culture of healthism in this country and we need to dismantle that

    1. Clampers Outside!

      “there is a pervasive culture of healthism in this country and we need to dismantle that” – there was a very large 20 something (age) person on the TV who said pretty much exactly that, claiming to be perfectly healthy….

      There’s a TED Talk too about fat shaming delivered by a large person…. whom you can hear wheezing and short of breath through out…

        1. noc

          @jimmy russell “there is no links between obesity and a diet high in sugars”

          Ehhh, yes, there are. You should read Gary Taubes ‘The Diet Delusion’ or the work of John Yudkin and Robert Lustig. There are strong, strong links between over-consumption of sugar and obesity. Sure even Roald Dahl knew it – check out the lyrics of the oompa loompahs’ ‘Augustus Gloop’ song!

  7. Caroline™

    One thing I will say: they destroyed Lilt. Destroyed it. So as far as I’m concerned the whole industry can burn.

  8. Guess Who

    Baby pain killers need to be banned too. All they are is a strategy to get people hooked on painkillers from childhood.

  9. 15 cent

    they gov. are of course, aware of all those facts. its just an excuse to draw in more money. they dont actually care. same with fags, they put fags up all the time coz if anyone pipes up they can just say “ah now ya shouldnt be smokin” they dont make policies to help people.

  10. Conor1010101

    If the tax is high enough it might stand a chance of working… 6 euro for a can of coke that’ll get them on to tap water pretty sharpish

  11. PaddyIrishMan

    It reads like he copy and pasted straight from the PR sh1te that Coke sent him. He’s an utter tosser.

  12. Shane

    It’s just headline grabbing bullcrap from a government that doesn’t know how to deliver on anything except sneaky taxes

    1. noc

      The tax might have some effect but they really need to curb the advertising of junk foods. And get rid of super-sizing. And tackle labelling e.g. as someone else posted above, put the equivalent no. of spoons of sugar in a prominent position.

  13. Paddy

    Notice how politicians almost invariably develop pot bellies during a term in office? That’s not down to sugary drinks.

  14. Stev

    It raises some interesting points about personal responsibility and the impact of taxation of goods etc but as it’s from the Hibernia Forum it has literally no worth to anyone. Scum.

    1. noc

      The food industry pays its advertisers billions to try to override your ability to be ‘personally responsible’. It’s David v. Goliath and Goliath’s winning as clearly evidenced by obesity rates.

    2. Nigel

      It’s weird that billions in adverrising to sell what is effectively poison to children is the height of responsibility but personal responsibility does not extenf to include democratically elected representatives of private citizens taking steps to counteract the influence of multinational conglomerates.

  15. Chris

    So they are finally targeting the tax band onto children’s pocket money. Of course they say it’s just drinks but don’t trust them kids, look forward to Universal Sweeties Charge, Chocolate Added Tax, playing in the DIRT tax and so on. You kids aren’t safe from Revenue anymore!

  16. Janet, I ate my avatar

    heavy people is the norm back home .. whatever the reason , probably a few, it needs to stop. It’s shocking when you don’t see it all the time. It goes beyond suger to a lifestyle possibly too immobile life styles and silly ideas about convenience and lack of education. rambling rant over.

  17. some old queen

    Weird how nobody here draws a comparison of sugar and tobacco smoking.

    Government (school teachers) has taxed tobacco to the point of prohibition yet we are being poisoned by sugar. It is in everything everywhere. We waddle around for a reason and it is not exercise because while most people in the past were somewhat more active, it does not explain this sort of weight gain.

  18. Turgenev

    Surely there must be some way that all this fat can be monetised? After all, it’s the main product of Ireland at the moment.

  19. Pete

    They cant put up the tax on sugar till they do so in the North for obvious reasons. That said obesity is down to additional factors such as sedentary games, parents scared to let their kids run around. junk food eaten at crazy hours, sad dads trying to buy love with treats and an ignorance of how.much sugar is in so called heath foods. By the way that eamon delaney has put on a few lbs lately.

      1. St. John Smythe

        I think he means divorced Dads having ‘their weekend’ and so, understandably, over-indulging their kids. But please just take it as you will

    1. ReproBertie

      Blaming a sedentary lifestyle is a red herring. Obesity is caused by eating too much. An hour’s spin class will only burn off one burger. By all means exercise, but the way to lose weight is to eat less and eat better.

  20. OhRowShayDoVahaWaile

    The venomous bitterness of all of
    You above is like a flesh eating bacteria
    Now where did I put my Donut
    wherein I do your nut

    1. Sheik Yahbouti

      Just a thought, how about telling the Government to eff off and do something about their vast collection of lardy arses before they start ‘fat shaming ‘ anyone else? Successive Governments have proved that they don’t give a toss about public health and this latest bandwagon is merely a revenue raising exercise. To some of the posters here – what gives you the right to be so bloody censorious? Ever heard of live and let live.

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