Convenience stores welcome common-sense stance on sugar tax

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s stance not to introduce a so-called sugar or soft drinks tax, despite the repeated efforts of health lobbyists, in recognition that there are more effective ways to tackle obesity without threatening jobs and raising consumers’ grocery bills.

AACS CEO Jeff Rogut says reactionary taxes like the proposed sugar tax have a history of failure and consequential negative impacts, such as potential for job losses, and threats to food manufacturers, the sugar industry and convenience store trade.

“The Health Minister is on the record as ruling out the introduction of a sugar tax and we welcome this decision,” Rogut said.

“The views of business and consumer groups like ours are often not afforded the same level of consideration as the powerful health lobby, so we are especially grateful that in this instance, common sense seems to have prevailed.

“AACS research in this area shows most Australians are opposed to a sugar tax on the basis it would pressure their budgets and threaten jobs. But while it obviously makes no political sense to pursue a sugar tax policy, the available evidence suggests it makes no health sense either.

“You need only consider the case of the excessive excise applied to legal tobacco and its role in fuelling the market for illegal tobacco in Australia to realise the danger in reactionary taxation to solve issues that instead rely on a dedicated education program,” Rogut added.

Recent AACS research shows a major reason for consumers’ opposition to a sugar tax is that it would be ineffective yet cost more, as has been the case with other products subjected to reactionary taxation.

According to the research, consumers believe the most effective strategy to reduce obesity is to ban advertising of high calorie foods during children’s TV programs.

Rogut says the convenience industry has made significant inroads in recent times to deliver a diverse profile of healthier products in response to changing consumer preferences, and these efforts should be supported – not hindered through additional taxation.

“Convenience stores today provide a much broader range of healthy meals, snacks and beverages to deliver the choice that consumer s desire. Importantly, we support peoples’ right to choose to buy legal products in a non-discriminatory environment,” Rogut concluded.

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