What a tax on sugary products could mean

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OBSERVER media asks commuters to stop and think…
Currently, consumers in Antigua can purchase a sorrel flavoured soda from supermarkets for $1.96 but a non-carbonated drink of the same flavour costs upwards of $5.
The disparity in price is just one example of how expensive it is to obtain healthier food alternatives locally.
It has also caused Health Minister Molwyn Joseph and his colleagues to consider the introduction of a tax on sugary foods/products and to concurrently decrease taxation on healthier options.
This week, OBSERVER media spoke to a number of commuters at the West Bus Station, to get their thoughts on what the “sugar-tax” means for a population where non-communicable diseases account for eight out of every 10 deaths.
Those statistics provided by Minister Joseph did not seem to come as a surprise to the eight people interviewed, as most of them believe that the prevalence of diabetes, especially among the youth, is linked to the high intake of sodas and other sugar-sweetened foods.

Albert Wade Jr, Food Distributor
“Things that really destroy us [people] always seem to liked. 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 to 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 are 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 ‘Okay, 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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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