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Soda Tax Claims Post-Truth Virtue Signalling


Soda Tax Claims Little More than Post-Truth Virtue Signalling


The Taxpayers’ Union is calling out those who are pushing for the implementation of a sugary drink tax as a ‘post-truth virtue signalling’ citing evidence that many of the claims being made about sugar taxes are demonstrably wrong.

“No matter how many times the same claims about soda taxes are repeated, it makes them no more true,” says Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams. “For example, claims that the Mexican soda tax resulted in a dramatic reduction in sales rely on expressed preference survey data – interviews with consumers. Now that real sales data is available, which show infinitely small changes in consumer behavior, it is intellectually dishonest to rely on less accurate figures solely because they fit the pro-tax argument."

"Only 1.6%of New Zealanders' total energy intake comes from the added sugar content of sugar-sweetened non-alcoholic beverages. Taxing sugary drinks to cure obesity would be like banning skateboards on a basis of reducing the road toll. It might feel good to be seen to be doing something, but a tax that doesn’t work, and is disproportionately borne by the poor, is morally questionable."

“What is particularly concerning about this latest round of reports is the willingness of media to accept the claims made, without even seeking counterbalancing views. For example, a study published last year claiming that a sugar tax would save more than 60 lives per year was mocked in public policy circles around Wellington for its ridiculous assumptions. Incredibly, sugar tax campaigners still cite it, and the media swallow the claims.”

Fizzed out: Why a sugar tax won’t curb obesity, published by the Taxpayers’ Union last year, examined whether taxes on food and drink are likely to reduce consumption and affect obesity rates. It is available online at http://www.taxpayers.org.nz/fizzed_out.


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