PDH Backs Sugar Tax Petition

Thursday, 9 March 2017
Portland District Health and the SeaChange initiative are backing a south-west Victorian petition for a sugar tax to reduce the consumption of sweet drinks to fight obesity in Australia.

The petition was initiated by GenR8 Change, a community driven movement that seeks to make the healthy choice the easy choice in the Southern Grampians Shire, and local health officials say the issue is just as relevant around Portland and the rest of Australia.

The petition is now available at www.ssbtax.com/.  The completed petition will be presented to the Federal House of Representatives at the end of March.

PDH Director of Primary & Aged Care Fiona Heenan encouraged the local community to get behind the campaign.

As a leading player in the SeaChange initiative, PDH has reviewed its own polices and is part of a regional health service commitment to phase out the sales of sugary drinks, Ms Heenan said.

Drinking sugary drinks contributes to obesity and obesity causes chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

We know that this preventative approach can have a significant long-term impact, particularly on children and hope local people make the effort to sign this important petition.

Ms Heenan said the proposed tax would be similar to taxes on cigarettes.

It's not about being a nanny state saying that you can't have sugary drinks, it's about applying a tax that recognises the health risks of sugary drinks and the impact they have on people and our health services.

We hope parents and the general community get on board and support this campaign.

The petition is being supported by Western District Health Service (WDHS) and other community leaders around Hamilton. It backs the Grattan Institute's push for a sugary drinks excise tax, levied at about 40 cents per 100 grams of sugar. Sugar is a major driver of obesity and one of the most common sources is sugar-sweetened drinks.

The proposed tax would mean a 15 cent price increase for a 370ml can of soft drink and would raise about $500 million a year. It could lead to a 15 per cent fall in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as consumers switch to water and other drinks not subject to the tax.

Money raised through the tax could be invested back into community health initiatives to promote healthier eating and lifestyle choices.

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