Beverage taxes do not improve public health and it appears that the British are waking up to this fact despite attempts by activists to impose regressive and discriminatory measures on consumers.

Activists have petitioned Parliament to impose a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, claiming it will reduce obesity and improve public health. The British government saw this misguided approach for what it is and said it will reject it.

“The Government has no plans to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages,” it said in a statement. “The Government has committed to a tax lock to avoid raising the cost of living and to promote UK productivity and economic growth…”

Beverage taxes hurt the economy, destroy jobs and harm the families that can least afford them. Here at Sip and Savor, we have noted many times that challenges such as obesity are complex and must be addressed through education and partnerships between industry and government. The British government recognized this as well.

“The causes of obesity are complex, caused by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors, and tackling it will require a comprehensive and broad approach,” the government said. “As such, the Government is considering a range of options for tackling childhood obesity, and the contribution that Government, alongside industry, families and communities can make, and will announce its plans for tackling childhood obesity by the end of the year.”

The British are choosing meaningful solutions over unfair taxes that will do nothing to improve public health. In America, polls show time and again that the public opposes not only soda taxes but also attempts by government to dictate what we eat and drink. Educating ourselves about how to achieve balance and then letting consumers decide for themselves how best to do that is the way to better public health. It preserves freedom of choice and can have a true impact on health.