OBSERVER media asks commuters what a sugar-tax could mean…

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In supermarkets in Antigua, consumers can purchase sorrel flavoured soda for $1.96 but the same flavour in a non-carbonated form is upwards of $5 – the gap is just one example to show it is expensive to drink healthy local beverages.
This gap has led Health Minister Molwyn Joseph and his colleagues to consider introducing a tax on sugary foods/products and concurrently decrease taxation on healthier options.
Yesterday, OBSERVER media spoke to commuters at the West Bus Station, to garner their thoughts on what the “sugar-tax” means for a population in which eight out every 10 deaths are a result of non-communicable diseases.
Those statistics given by Minister Joseph did not surprise the eight people interviewed, with most referring to the growing number of diabetics being linked to the high intake of soda and sweets, especially among the youth.

Albert Wade Jr, Food Distributor

“Things that really destroy us, [people] always seem to like. Yes, it’s really nice but too much of it is not good. More water every day is essential too but I really think putting taxes on the soda won’t really stop people. They just need to be more aware of the dangers that soda and sweeties can bring toward us.”
Anna, Chef

“Putting taxes on sweets and sodas is not going to stop it, the only way they can really stop this issue is educating the people about it. The kids, parents, everybody has to get educated about all these diseases, obesity, what it does to you. They need to start thinking more about their health because if that’s how they thinking, they are killing themselves. Water is cheaper if they can’t afford fruit juice. People [are] going to have to drink lime juice from now on.”
Salange Georges, Chef

“I can see the benefits but I say it’s up to people. If you want to buy it you’re going to find a way, even if it’s high…the way how you prioritise, if you say “Ok I want the sugary stuff”, you are going to buy it. I don’t think they should ban sodas, but they should limit the amount they bring in.”
Michelle, Self-employed

“Some people go for the soda; some people decide to grab a juice. It depends on the people’s pocket. Cost of living is very high, everybody can’t afford to grab a juice, they will more grab a soda. In the morning, when I walk in the streets, I see people go to the bread shop and they walking down the road with a soda in their hands with a bread, early in the morning.”
Pearlina, Retired

“If this soda business ah one issue fuh sell, why the government bring it in? Ban it. They say they’re going to ban the foam plate and so, ban that too.”
Akeem Parchment, Antigua State College Student

“If a lot people are suffering from diabetes, a reduction in the intake of those sweets is a good thing. They think the government is trying to make money but the government is actually trying to help the people’s health. You can’t really stop the kids from eating sweets, kids are going to find a way to eat sweets in and outside of school.”
Mario Dowe, Bakery Driver

“The individual has to know how much sugar to use and how much to consume in their bodies. If you accustomed to drink soda, you’re gonna still buy it. Too much sweets’ is not good for the kids, they become hyperactive and they wouldn’t really calm down to study what they’re supposed to study.”
Stephanie, Fisherwoman

“They’re consuming too much sugar at this time, they need concentrate on more fruits. If there is a ban on it that means they will buy less, I agree 100 per cent. As a matter of fact, they need to come down to the fish market and get seafood, it’s better for them than those sugary products.
(Photos by Jeremiah Valero)

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