Cameron Says He'd Rather Not Put New Tax on Sugary Drinks

  • Prime minister refuses to rule out levy to help tackle obesity
  • Government seeks cooperation with food industry on sugar

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said he’d rather not put new taxes on sugary foods and drinks but refused to rule out the possibility as his government seeks to tackle rising obesity and the fallout for the state-run National Health Service.

“When we look at the effect of obesity on not just diabetes, but the effect on heart disease, potentially on cancer, we look at the costs on the NHS, the life-shortening potential of these problems, we do need to have a fully worked-up program to deal with this problem,” Cameron said at a news conference in Budapest Thursday during a visit to Hungary.

The London-based Times newspaper reported earlier Thursday that a tax on sugary drinks is now being considered by ministers in a reversal of previous policy. Cameron said the government plans to make announcements on how it will tackle obesity later in the year, though he gave no specifics.

“We shouldn’t be in the business of ruling things out,” he said. “But obviously putting extra taxes on things is not something I aim to do. It’s something I would rather avoid.”

Cameron’s spokeswoman, Helen Bower, told reporters in London the food industry needs to work with the government on a joint approach to the problem.

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