Taxes on smoothies and fruit juices should be reduced
The government wants us to eat more healthily yet taxes healthy drinks in a way that discourages their consumption. Should such taxes be reduced to increase consumption of healthy foods?
Please cast your vote after you've read the arguments.
You can also add to the debate by leaving a comment at the end of the page.
It is nonsense to tax healthy drinks like fruit juices while not taxing turkey twizzlers
You don't need to pay VAT on the vast majority of food and drink that you buy.
0% VAT rate is applied to all "essential" foods whether it's doughnuts, frozen chips, or turkey twizzlers.
All 'beverages' are taxed at 17.5%. Classed as non-essential beverages are exceptions to the zero-rate that's applied to food.
There is nothing inherently wrong with turkey twizzlers beyond the additives (which, following the negative publicity, have been cut down on - a move reflected across the industry), if eaten in moderation. They are a good source of protein that's essential to young people. Poorer families don't need expensive fruit drinks; fruit and veg (not taxed) will suffice.
The government campaigns to encourage us to eat '5 a day'
It doesnt make sense that a government that encourages people to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day can still charge 17.5% tax on 100% pure fruit juices.
The Treasury is essentially discouraging the consumption of smoothies and fruit juices.
But to get people on the road to changing their diet habits then taxes on all things "healthy" should be reduced and if it means people are buying takeaway fruit and watered down fruit juice it is a start to encouraging people to try new things and buy the healier options on sale. With out people having an incentinve to start with you will not change peoples attitudes
The majority of supermarkets sell 'value range' fruit juice from concentrate, which provides equal health benefits and counts towards your 5-a-day. It is also probably cheaper to buy fruit and veg than live off takeaways. Just because smoothies cost a bit of money doesn't mean that the government is depriving our nation of healthy food.
It is also much healthier to eat fresh fruit and veg that hasn't been strained, preserved and pasteurised as many fruit juices don't contain the same level of vitamins and fiber that fresh fruit does. Smoothies and juices have their place in a healthy lifestyle, but only in moderation. Much better alternatives exist.
Drinking a glass of sugary, watered down fruit is not actually very healthy. It is one of the quickest ways to consume calories (the average glass containg 150 - 200 calories, many of which natural sugary carbohydrates) as most people take only a few seconds to drink a glass.
Removing VAT would increase sales of healthy drinks
Removing VAT would lead to a massive increase in fruit consumption - an additional half a billion portions each year - which is what the government wants.
The treasury says it can not remove VAT without EU approval.
EU rules do not allow the adding of more products to zero-rating unless it is done across the EU. And that would take a lot of political willpower.
Furthermore, smoothies in particular would remain expensive; a small bottle of Innocent costs about £2 (£1.70 before VAT) and still counts as only one portion. It is much more economical to buy individual fruit than elaborate concoctions, and removing VAT doesn't make them any more affordable to the sectors of the population that need to eat more fruit.
Children's health will improve
Children with good health will long term save the government money on health care. Children happily drink fruit drinks. Parents should be made fully aware of this
Smoothies and fruit juices are mainly consumed in middle class homes. In working class homes, the sad fact is that the drink consumed most often is cheap supermarket coke. At less than 30p for a two-litre bottle, smoothies, at nearly £2 for a 1-litre carton, smoothies cannot compete. Coke will still be as popular, and as damaging to children's health as ever it was. Reducing tax on smoothies will have little, if any, effect on the health of the children who are most likely to be in poor health.
Tax is an overly blunt instrument
One of the treasury’s arguments against reducing tax on fruit juices and smoothies is that tax is an overly blunt instrument.
If it really can encourage another half a billion portions of fruit consumption a year, then surely lowering tax is worth it in the long run.
The government must see tax as in incentive to consumers to change behaviour given its increases in taxing cigarettes, and it argument for doing so.
The money would be better spent on education
Drinking smoothies won't solve the problems of ill-health in our society: not unless we continue long-term education and encouragement of our children to take plenty of exercise and eat balanced diets. An serious investment would be far better than pandering to a dieting fad.
Firstly, just because the Treasury says something doesn't make it right - if the Treasury says a 100% tax would be good for the country, it wouldn't mean you have to agree with them!
Secondly, there are lots of things taxes can be spent on, such as improving healthcare and the NHS. Reducing these taxes actually cuts out the beauraucracy involved and improves healthcare, thus being a good way to save money rather than spend it.
Smoothies and fruit juices are bad for oral health
Although counting as one of the "5-a-day", fruit juices are very acidic and often sugary and have a bad effect on the nation's teeth. The chewing of fruit stimulates the production of saliva and helps to protect the teeth by counter-acting the acid, but with fruit juices and smoothies this chewing doesn't occur, thus leaving the teeth susceptible.
If reducing tax did increase consumption there would be a negative effect on people teeth and our already overloaded NHS dental system would be further stretched.
This is a rather tenuous argument; in moderation there will be no overall negative effect. Fruit juices and smoothies are not of course designed to replace meals, but merely form a part of a healthy lifestyle.
What do you think?