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Sugar Tax. Italian Constitutional Court aligns itself with the WHO indications

Assobibe (non-alcoholic beverage producers): "A surprising position, unproven effectiveness"

"The position expressed by the Constitutional Court on the doubts of constitutionality raised by the Lazio Regional Administrative Court is very surprising for having ignored the considerations made by the Assobibe - Confindustria lawyers in the documents filed, but even more so for the reasons which are based on a contestable and unconnected scientific rationale from real consumption in Italy". This was declared in a post on LinkedIn by the president of AssoBibe (Italian Association of non-alcoholic beverage producers) Giangiacomo Pierini , who had already spoken in recent days on the ruling of the Council which legitimizes the SugarTax.

"Science confirms that to address multifactorial pathologies such as overweight, obesity and diabetes, integrated approaches are needed and a measure that targets a single food does not modify unbalanced behaviors", continues Pierini . "Countries act with different approaches and in many cases the Sugar Tax was introduced to encourage reformulation: we did it without the need for taxes, managing to cut the sugar placed on shelves by 41%, also through voluntary actions and protocols signed with the Ministry of Health, and applying strict self-limitations in sales to the most susceptible consumers, such as children under 13".

"The choice whether to maintain a new tax, which is currently useless and harmful for families and businesses, is in any case the Government's. Businesses ask for choices based on evidence, numbers and common sense", adds the president of Assobibe. "In fact, the effectiveness of the tax on reducing the incidence of overweight, obesity and diabetes is not demonstrated: in the area defined as the Europe Zone, which includes over 53 countries, the WHO records that, by 2020, the Sugar Tax was was introduced in ten of these, producing a contraction in consumption only in the short term, before returning to pre-tax levels (with deleterious effects for the economy, especially for SMEs). In markets with taxes on soft drinks such as Mexico, In Finland, Chile, the United Kingdom, France and Ireland, obesity levels are growing, demonstrating that taxation does not translate into an improvement in diet, so much so that some have started to eliminate it, such as Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Israel and Australia ".

Yet it is the WHO itself that receives explicit mention in the explanatory report of the law establishing the sugar tax, as, we read, this tax was designed following the invitation of the UN body, "contained in its 2015 report" , entitled "Fiscal policies for diet and prevention of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs)" and "in other scientific studies".

The Constitutional Court intervened last March 26, establishing that the Sugar Tax "falls within the category of indirect taxes on the production and consumption of certain products considered harmful to health, the excessive use of which can, therefore , generate an increase in public spending, connected to the consequent need to ensure appropriate care through the NHS, the specific scientific justifications underlying this tax demonstrate that, with the contested provision, the legislator made reasonable use of its discretionary powers in tax matters".

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EFA News - European Food Agency