A sugar tax bill has been proposed to 2020, causing controversy. Sugar taxes are levied on companies that manufacture, process, import, distribute and sell artificially added sugars such as carbonated drinks and juices. In additi-on, the burden varies depending on the sugar content. For example, it costs 110 won based on the original taste of Coca-Cola. The controversy over the sugar tax is divided between the argument that a sugar tax should be introduced to the health of the people and the argument that the tax sources should be expanded in the event of rising prices.
The global community is now at war on sugar. In October 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recommended the introduction to a 20% ‘sugar tax’ in each country. In other words, they tax 20% of the price of food on sugary food. Discussions are also growing in Korea to introduce the so-called Sugar Tax in sweet foods. I strongly support to impose a sugar tax and will give two reasons.
First, a sugar tax will help improve people’s health. Simply put, a reduction in sugar consumption will help reduce obesity and diabetes. According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea’s adult obesity rate stood at 34.6 percent in 2018, with one in three adults being obese. Particularly, out of 57.5 grams ofsugar intake caused by processed foods by teenagers, beverages account for 14.3 grams and soda 9.8 grams. Although totalsugar does not reach the 100g standard, Korean teenagersshow the highest sugar intake in adolescents and have a high proportion of processed foods and soda. The obesity situation in Korea isincreasing and dangerous every year. Based on this, zero-calorie drinks are continuously being released.Itfeaturessugar-free and while maintaining the taste. Soon after, Coca-Cola Korea also released ‘Sprite Zero’ without sugar from the existing sprite. As such, the sugar tax increases the production of shamans or low-sugar beverages by companies and helps improve people’s health.
Second, the global trend to impose a sugar tax. In order to prevent diabetes and obesity, the number of countri-es that introduce sugar tax has increased significantly since the World Health Organization(WHO) recommended in 2016. According to a survey conducted in March 2020, nearly 50 countries introduced a sugar tax. The first country to implement a sugar tax was Norway. Norway introduced the ‘Chocolate and Sugar Product Tax’ in 1922. Since 2014,some statesin the United States, including Berkeley and Philadelphia, have implemented sugar taxes. The most important thing to note is that Berkeley, which introduced the sugar tax in 2014, has reduced soda consumption.In the United States, the price of a two-liter Coca-Cola is only $2, but the sugar tax is up 64 cents (32 pe-rcent). Naturally, drinks with less water orsugar are inevitable instead of drinks. Despite lobbying by beverage ma-kers, sugar taxes are on the rise not only in the United States but also in many countries.
●Opinion from a reader
By Yun Heejong (Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering)
The sugar tax will help improve people’s health and the globaltrend to impose a sugartax.That is why I am in fav-or ofintroducing a sugartax.The sugartax encouragesmanufacturersto rethink theirrecipes and to make healthier soft drinks and beverages. Therefore, consumers can drink healthier drinks and beverages, which can keep them away from chronic diseasessuch as obesity.
Recently, a policymaker proposed a bill calling for the introduction of a sugar tax in Korea, sparking controversy. The intention is to contribute to the improvement of people's health by introducing a sugar tax, but will there be only advantages? The main reason critics oppose the introduction of a sugar tax is the claim that it has little or no effect.
In the early days of the introduction of the sugar tax, consumers may feel burdened by prices, which may temporarily reduce purchases of sugar-containing foods, but over time, they are likely to continue their consumption of sugar even if they pay more. There are also concerns about the so-called "balloon effect," such as buying sugar-containing foods from other countries to avoid taxes. The first country to introduce the sugar tax was Norway in 1922, where Norwegian customers continued to shop for sugar-containing foods in Sweden, which did not impose sugar taxes.
There are concerns that if the sugar tax increases the levy on sugar-containing food manufacturers, the levy will eventually be passed on to consumers. An official from the food industry pointed out, "If a sugar tax is applied, sugar-contained foods’ prices will inevitably rise, and eventually consumer burden will increase." Ha Sang-do, a professor of food engineering at Chung-Ang University, pointed out that the introduction of a sugar tax will surely raise the price of sugar-containing foods, but that price’s steep rise will not reduce consumers' purchases.
Some argue that it is too early to introduce a sugar tax. According to the OECD, the average obesity rate in member countries is 19.5%, but Korea's obesity rate is only 5.3%. There are also criticisms of using sugar taxes to raise taxes. Some critics insist that the purpose of the bill is just a policy to raise prices, drawing criticism that it is a kind of tax omnipotence. Furthermore, some point out that the policymakers state that the obesity problem is solved only by raising taxes, even though there are other alternatives such as encouraging exercise and education for people.
It is very important to enact legislation related to national health, but it is essential to have a serious discussion on whether the enactment of legislation will have the effect that was intended. Ha Sang-do, reportedly stressed, "Consumer awareness, education and training can reduce sugar intake and contribute to obesity or improving public health." Critics point out that social consensus and sufficient collection of opinions must come first before pushing for the introduction of a sugar tax. Lee Eun-hee, a professor at Inha University’s College of Social Science, suggested, "We should promote non-price policies such as campaigns rather than taxes," and added, "Tax introduction should be the last resort.”
●Opinion from a reader
By Park Yuna (Major in Chinese Studies)
I think imposing sugar tax is quite inappropriate for customers because sugar-contained foods’ prices may go up, then it would become much burden to customers. I partly agree on their aim of imposing sugar tax, but why does policymakers don’t consider about inflation because of imposing sugar tax? Furthermore, I am afraid that imposing sugar tax leads policymakers to impose salt tax, or MSG tax. I agree on some experts’ opinions that instead of imposing sugar tax, we should at first educate people to not eat too much sugar-contained food or encourage them to exercise more.