Sugar-sweetened beverage taxes in the WHO European Region: success through lessons learned and challenges faced

In 2022 WHO Europe published a study examining sugar-sweetened beverage (‎SSB)‎ taxes in the WHO European Region, which are recommended as part of government efforts to prevent noncommunicable diseases (‎NCDs)‎ such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The aim was to better understand factors that support the uptake of SSB taxes at national level in order to support policy-making in other countries both in the WHO European Region and more broadly. Information was taken from policy documents, media, national statistics and interviews with 20 policy-makers.

Taxes were in place in

  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • France
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Latvia
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • United Kingdom

The taxes were excise taxes or levies in all cases: that is, they were applied to industry rather than consumers. Although all taxes applied to carbonated soft drinks containing sugar, some also included products such as sweetened milk, juice and artificially sweetened beverages. More recent taxes tended to apply higher tax rates to beverages with higher sugar content. The taxes were implemented in the context of health policy commitments to prevent NCDs, which present a major health burden. In seven countries a priority was also to increase government revenue. The introduction of SSB taxation was supported by collaboration between health and tax policy-makers and was strongly opposed by the beverage industry, although the policy process was also influenced by external industry and public health stakeholders. Policy-makers continued to work to improve the taxes in response to new evidence and experiences of SSB taxation in other countries.


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