What is a sin tax?

July 3rd, 2019

Sin Tax Chat! What is a sin tax and why are we talking about it? Today it’s Boris Johnson vs Cancer Research UK.

A "sin tax" is a tax on goods which are deemed to be socially harmful. This includes alcohol, tobacco, soft drinks, fast foods, caffeine and products high in salt or sugar. It can also extend to pornography and gambling. Conservative leadership candidate, Boris Johnson, has promised a clamp down on the "nanny state" (a state that interferes too much in the everyday lives of its citizens). He has said that he will review sin taxes, especially on sugary products, since they impact those on lowest incomes the most. Sugar taxes were introduced last year. However, this proposal has come under fire on the same day that Cancer Research released findings which state that four cancers are higher linked to obesity than smoking and days before the Ministry of Health is due to release a green paper (policy paper) extending sugar taxes to milkshakes, too. "If we want people to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles, we should encourage people to walk, cycle and generally do more exercise.. Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called 'sin taxes' really are, and if they actually change behaviour." - Boris Johnson " [Sin taxes] have been highly effective in bringing down smoking rates to record lows, including within deprived communities, and the Treasury's own analysis showed the tax on sugary drinks took 90 million kg of sugar out of the nation's diet on day one" Michelle Mitchell, CEO Cancer Research

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