Tax on 'unhealthy' food and drink may end up costing Irish families €606 a year
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Tax on 'unhealthy' food and drink may end up costing Irish families €606 a year

THE INTRODUCTION of a tax on "unhealthy" food and drink could leave the average Irish family out of pocket to the tune of €606 per year.

Family household fare like crisps, yogurts, and breakfast cereals would fall under the bracket of "unhealthy" food under proposals being put forward by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Milk drinks, sliced meats, and some soups could also fall foul of the plans, which are set to be presented at a meeting organised by the WHO and businessman Michael Bloomberg.

Under the proposals, a 20 percent tax could be levied against food and drink that the WHO deems as high in fat, sugar, salt or calories as unhealthy.

However, analysis from Christopher Snowden, the head of lifestyle economics at the UK's Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), has shone a light on the likely impact of the "sin tax".

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Irish families would be hit hard by the change, according to Snowden, with the tax potentially resulting in a €606 per year increase in consumer spending per 'traditional 'household (two parents and two children).

That breaks down as a €489.94 per household increase in spending on food across the year and a €116.79 rise in the amount spent on alcohol over a 12-month period.

That figure also equates to a cumulative cost of €1 billion a year to Irish consumers.

"Taxing the groceries of ordinary families will only succeed in making them poorer when all the credible evidence shows that the best way to improve health is to make people richer," Snowden said.

"Sin taxes are a reliable source of revenue precisely because they do not make people 'deal with themselves'. For the most part, they simply raise the cost of living."

Snowden also warned that many of the products being targeted fall into the category of being "price inelastic" resulting in a rise in the cost of living.

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