The New Zealand Initiative’s report on a sugar tax is deeply flawed, and the fact that the junk-food lobby are members and funders of this so-called independent “think tank” highlights a credibility gap, the Green Party said.
“The New Zealand Initiative cares more about junk-food barons’ bottom lines than it cares about Kiwis who are getting sick and dying because of obesity-related illnesses,” said Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague.
“Taxing sugary drinks to help curb obesity is not some sort of silly conspiracy – it’s an approach adopted by the governments of the UK, Mexico, France and Norway, and it’s promoted globally by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Instead of listening to the New Zealand Initiative’s PR nonsense, we should look to doctors and health advocates, such as the New Zealand Medical Association and the National Institute for Health Innovation, both of whom are backing the introduction of a sugary drink tax.
“The sorts of arguments the New Zealand Initiative are trucking out against a sugary drink levy are the same as those used by tobacco and alcohol lobbyists against taxes on their products.
“A soft drink tax will help to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and reduce obesity rates. Making the obesity problem all about personal choice, which the Government and the New Zealand Initiative both advocate, has been proven not to work. It’s the reason we’ve got such a big obesity problem in New Zealand.
“The New Zealand Initiative’s head-in-the-sand nonsense is matched only by health minister Jonathan Coleman, who is willfully blocking his ears and closing his eyes to the overwhelming evidence backing a sugar tax.
“More and more New Zealanders are becoming obese and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that eating and drinking too much sugar is partly to blame for it. It’s time to stand up to the junk food industry and do something about it,” said Mr Hague.