In an effort to steer consumers toward healthier beverage options, Israel will begin taxing sweetened drinks starting in January. The Israeli parliament’s finance committee approved the tax which will affect sugared drinks, diet drinks, and natural juices. The committee exempted natural grape juice and lemon juice.
According to i24NEWS, many observant Jews drink grape juice instead of wine during Shabbat and holidays such as Passover and lemon juice contains no sugar. Any sugared drink with more than five grams of sugar per 100 milliliters will be taxed at $0.32 per liter. For diet drinks and natural juices, the tax will be $0.22 per liter.
“Hopefully raising a little bit the price of those beverages will help people choose better,” Sivan Ben Avraham Shulman, a clinical dietitian and epidemiologist told i24NEWS. She says that while diet drinks and natural juices aren’t as damaging to one’s health as sugared drinks, it’s still important to reduce their consumption.
“Drinking a sweet drink is a bad habit that should be stopped, so this is another reason to tax those drinks as well,” she said.
The Nurses’ Health Study and The Health Professionals Follow-up Study, two of the largest studies on the subject, found that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with increased risk for heart attacks, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, says Dr. Gabe Mirkin, author of The Healthy Heart Miracle.
Mirkin says that even artificially sweetened beverages are associated with increased risk for heart attacks and deaths in women. Drinking too much fruit juice can cause a rise in blood sugar levels, notes the expert.
According to the Tax Policy Center, no state in the U.S. currently taxes sweetened beverages but several localities levy what’s commonly referred to as a soda tax. In the District of Columbia, consumers pay a special 8% sales tax on the retail purchases of soda, including real or artificially sweetened beverages. In other jurisdictions, the tax is paid by distributors.
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