Former New York Mayor Commends South Africa on Sugar Tax

Former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg commended South Africa on Tuesday as the SA Parliament officially adopted a sugary beverage tax.

Speaking in his capacity as WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases, Bloomberg said: “South Africa is the latest in a growing list of countries to recognize that sugary beverages are harmful to health and that taxes work to reduce consumption.

“Rates of obesity and diabetes are rising in every part of the world, contributing to millions of deaths each year — and sugary drinks are one of the biggest culprits. South Africa’s new tax on sugary drinks will help save lives — and spur other countries to act.”

Bloomberg has been focused on improving public health from his time as New York City Mayor and now through his foundation and role as the WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases (the position initially disastrously given to former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe).

The new tax is due to be implemented in South Africa on 1 April 2018. The price of cans of fizzy drinks, like coke, will increase by 11 percent… which may eventually be increased to 20 percent. It’s hoped the price hike will put people off buying fizzy drinks which contribute to poor health including tens of thousands of cases of diabetes. Government will use the tax to promote good health.

More than 30 countries have introduced tax on sugary drinks, including India, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Portugal.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies Obesity Prevention Program funds civil society and research partners that are raising public awareness of the problem and supporting policies to prevent the rise of obesity in Barbados, Brazil, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, and South Africa. Bloomberg Philanthropies also supports efforts in the U.S.