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Article: Volume 44 Number 6 Page 476 - June 2017

  Dent Update 2017; 44: 476-484  Read article

Dental public health:  The UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy: Implications for Dental Health

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Abstract: A Soft Drinks Industry Levy on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) was announced in the Westminster budget on 16 March 2016. The UK Government plans to introduce the SSB levy in 2018, with legislation enacted in 2017. The aim of the levy is ‘…..to give companies plenty of space to change their product mix’. The levy is a banded duty on soft drinks with less than 5 g/100 ml being classed as tax exempt, drinks with between 5−8 g/100 ml taxed at a basic level tax at 18 pence per litre, and drinks with greater than 8 g/100 ml taxed at a higher level of 24 pence per litre. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that the Soft Drinks Industry Levy will attract revenue of £500 million for 2019−2020, the second year of implementation. Unusually, the expected revenue raised will be hypothecated to fund physical activity and breakfast clubs in English schools.

Clinical relevance: The UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy on SSBs has the potential to reduce both childhood obesity and the prevalence and severity of tooth decay, although precise estimates of effect are unclear. The levy should be welcomed by the dental profession as a structural fiscal policy to improve both general and dental health.

Author notes: Colwyn Jones, Consultant in Dental Public Health, NHS Health Scotland, Neil Craig, Principal Public Health Advisor, NHS Health Scotland and Neil Anand, Public Health Advisor (Health Economics), NHS Health Scotland, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB, UK

Objective: To understand the proposed UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy and the beneficial health effects that will theoretically accrue from implementation; specifically on obesity and dental caries.