More adults than youngsters back UAE's expanded 'sugar tax'

Non-fizzy sugary drinks will increase in price by 50 per cent from December 1

Fizzy were have been subject to a 50 per cent tax since October 2017. That will be expanded on December 1 to cover non-fizzy sugary drinks including iced coffees and sports drinks. AP Photo
Closing the loophole on sugary drinks

As The National reported last year, non-fizzy sugared drinks were not covered when the original tax was introduced in 2017. Sports drinks sold in supermarkets were found to contain, on average, 20 grams of sugar per 500ml bottle.

The non-fizzy drink AriZona Iced Tea contains 65 grams of sugar – about 16 teaspoons – per 680ml can. The average can costs about Dh6, which would rise to Dh9.

Drinks such as Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino contain 31g of sugar in 270ml, while Nescafe Mocha in a can contains 15.6g of sugar in a 240ml can.

Flavoured water, long-life fruit juice concentrates, pre-packaged sweetened coffee drinks fall under the ‘sweetened drink’ category
 

Not taxed:

Freshly squeezed fruit juices, ground coffee beans, tea leaves and pre-prepared flavoured milkshakes do not come under the ‘sweetened drink’ band.

People over 25 are more supportive of the UAE’s expanded tax on sugar than their younger counterparts, a poll found.

YouGov said 56 per cent of people over 25 backed the decision to hit non-fizzy sugary drinks with a 50 per cent levy from December 1, compared with 47 per cent of people aged 18 to 24.

As expected, the pollster also found stronger support from wealthier residents - 66 per cent earning more than Dh40,000 per month backed the tax compared to 48 per cent earning less than Dh5,000.

Next week the government will expand the existing 50 per cent sugar tax to non-fizzy sugary drinks that escaped the original tax from October 2017.

It will also hit retailers and customers with a 100 per cent tax on e-cigarettes and vaping fluid after legalising their sale in April.

YouGov polled 1,006 people living in the UAE between October 23 and 30 for an independent study. It did not ask respondents about the e-cigarette tax.

Overall, more than half who took part - 55 per cent - said they were fully in favour of the new tax.

A higher number of men were in favour of the sin tax, 57 per cent, while only one in two women supported it (50 per cent).

But almost two in five people - 39 per cent - quizzed about the new tax were not even aware of its introduction.

Of people who supported the tax, 77 per cent were in favour of a complete ban.

Almost half, 46 per cent, said they would not change their consumption of fizzy drinks despite the imminent price increase.

Last month, the Federal Tax Authority urged retailers and importers to ensure they are ready for the tax introduction.

In particular, retailers must ensure they are registered as a distributor of e-cigarettes.

“As we are getting close to December, we are passing on the message to encourage producers, importers and companies that deal with new excisable products to register,” said Khalid Al Bustani, director general of the Federal Tax Authority (FTA), said in October.

“There could be delays in import into the UAE and penalties if they do not comply with the excise tax rules. They should not leave it to the last minute to register.”

EXCISE-TAX-SUGAR-UPDATE
Closing the loophole on sugary drinks

As The National reported last year, non-fizzy sugared drinks were not covered when the original tax was introduced in 2017. Sports drinks sold in supermarkets were found to contain, on average, 20 grams of sugar per 500ml bottle.

The non-fizzy drink AriZona Iced Tea contains 65 grams of sugar – about 16 teaspoons – per 680ml can. The average can costs about Dh6, which would rise to Dh9.

Drinks such as Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccino contain 31g of sugar in 270ml, while Nescafe Mocha in a can contains 15.6g of sugar in a 240ml can.

Flavoured water, long-life fruit juice concentrates, pre-packaged sweetened coffee drinks fall under the ‘sweetened drink’ category
 

Not taxed:

Freshly squeezed fruit juices, ground coffee beans, tea leaves and pre-prepared flavoured milkshakes do not come under the ‘sweetened drink’ band.