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Estonia Backs Down On Sugar Tax

By Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

16 October 2013

Estonia's Minister of Agriculture Helir-Valdor Seeder has indicated that the Government no longer plans to impose a special tax on sugary or fatty food, after observing the outcome of similar measures in Finland and Denmark.

Seeder, who previously supported the tax, made the comment in a newspaper interview in which he said that Estonia was "not ready" for such a tax. He explained that the situation was not "catastrophic", and that the main problem was that some young people were consuming energy drinks for taste and to quench thirst without understanding that they were not for this purpose.

In May, it was noted that Finns cross the border to buy cheaper sweet products in Estonia. However, Vice-president of the International Health Promotion Association Anu Kasmel argued that rather than focusing on this extra revenue, Estonians should consider the costs of treating childhood diabetes.

Seeder's change of mind follows a similar u-turn in Belgium, where Health Minister Laurette Onkelinx recently rejected a plan to tax soft drinks after an in-depth consultation with the country's food and drink industry. Earlier this month, the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland recommended a 20 percent tax on sugary drinks as an anti-obesity measure.

Denmark scrapped its health-related taxes on sugar and fats last year, after Danes flocked to Germany to buy sugary drink products at cheaper cost.

TAGS: tax | Estonia | Health tax | food | tax rates

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