Fizzy Drinks Tax – Fuzzy Logic More Like!

1st January every year sees new taxes appearing on the scene as the ever-ingenious politicians find new ways to wrangle money out of us. Amongst 2012’s offerings in France is the sugary drinks tax. A tax of €7.16 per hectolitre (= 100 litres) of such drinks, boissons sucrées, has been introduced. This will mean a 1-2 centime rise on the price of a can of drink. The proceeds are going to help fund l’assurance maladie (the public health insurance that the State provides).

Like the ban on tomato ketchup in schools, this is another tax that will Do Us Good and stop us becoming a nation of fatties, apparently. However, well known French economist Pierre Combris has pointed out the flaw in the government’s argument. Governments want to make money so they actually want us to carry on buying vast quantities of fizzy drinks since they’ll raise more tax that way. But if they achieve their avowed public health aim of putting us off these drinks of the devil, then they won’t raise very much revenue after all. Have they really thought this through? Coca-Cola has already protested by not investing 17 million euros in its Bouches-du-Rhône factory in France. That’s a big financial blow to the country.

And will the small price hike break the habits of a lifetime? Smokers and drinkers resiliently take the annual increase in the cost of their vices on the chin, and carry on consuming. Will sugary drinks drinkers be equally resolute, or will the tax burst their bubble? We’ll see.

This tax won’t have much effect in our household. I don’t buy a lot of fizzy drinks or premixed squash, just the occasional bottle of orangina or coke at party time or for a treat. So it won’t be making a huge hole in my purse. And food prices have been going up so quickly generally lately that I’m not sure heavy consumers of the boissons will even notice the rise anyway. We’ve all got used to paying a different price for the same food item every week.

And will France be full of slim people by the end of the year? Hmmm …



0 Replies to “Fizzy Drinks Tax – Fuzzy Logic More Like!”

  1. If you’re going to tax fizzy drinks, why not then also tax crisps, sweets, McDonalds, cheese, in fact anything you can eat that might make you fat? Daft, eh?

    1. I agree. I was saying to Chris that pretty much any food eaten to excess will make you fat, certainly things like cheese, saucisson, croissants, but you won’t ever see those being taxed!

  2. After listening to the reasons why they decided to ban ketchup in schools, sometimes I think that it’s more of anti-American food movement than anything else. As you said, they could also tax plenty of other things that contribute to obesity. Conversely, our son was surprised to see how inexpensive wine is here compared with in the USA.

    1. The ketchup thing was definitely anti-American. Mustn’t have it spoiling good French food! It really is way over the top to ban it. The fizzy drinks tax is similarly ill advised in my opinion, another one hitting out at ordinary folks. Maybe government ministers don’t put ketchup on their chips and wash them down with lemonade, but a lot of us do!

  3. Hi there, first post here. I am an American living in Paris, and looking to homestead in rural France eventually. I see this issue from another side…I take good care of my health and eat well, so I see it as a tax exemption on everything else that isn’t toxic. I don’t think soft drinks and carrot sticks should be taxed at the same rate to provide health care. If someone smokes and drinks hard liquor and eats fast food, why should the rest of us pay for their heart surgery? (This is my opinion regarding the health debate in the US, not an opinion on what I think the French should be doing, btw)
    That being said, I also see a clear distinction between fatty foods and un-natural foods. Americans tend to think that “diet” soft drinks are not unhealthy, but in fact they do still contain toxic substances(meaning that the human digestive system is incapable of processing it). Funny that French people eat so much fatty food, cheese and fried meat etc, but are almost never overweight. The French eat naturally, generally speaking. Fat is natural, digestible material. Processed foods and chemicals clog the digestive system, creating a backlog, which is what obesity really is…it’s not fat. Americans aren’t fat…they’re full of…stuff. I like to think of the digestive system like a sink drain, with a wire mesh filter. Vegetables, meat, cheese, fat, etc…will be ground up and pass through…unnatural elements(chemicals etc…) get stuck in the mesh and then nothing gets through. It has to go somewhere. Americans aren’t obese because of overeating, it’s due to a poisoned food chain.

    I understand the point of view that government shouldn’t be forcing it’s preferences on people, but the other side is unfettered deregulations, where corporations buy politicians to allow them to poison people for profit. That’s America today, and a big part of the reasons why I’ve moved to France. Here, Cantal(for example) is made the same way(naturally) that it has been for a long long time…if they introduced antibiotics or “genetically-modified” food for the animals, there would be a riot, and rightfully so…

    Sorry to be so long winded, but it’s a complex, global issue, and very important to me. I’m very happy to hear that Coca-Cola has packed up and left town. We’re all better off without that swill. Besides, so many beautiful wines to savor 🙂 Salut!

    1. Thanks Patrick. I appreciate that you’ve put a lot of thought and time into your reply. I guess my blog is doing its job if it makes people stop and think about things.
      Are you enjoying Paris? My daughter hopes to go to Uni there so we’ll be visiting the city for the first time soon. And good luck with moving to rural France. It’s the place to be most definitely!

  4. Thank you, I am enjoying Paris, but I am also looking forward to getting back to a more connected(natural and responsible) way of life…composting, growing veggies etc… I’m halfway through a 1 year program at Spéos Photography School, and hope to work in Paris for a year or so after school while getting a homestead established. I’d like to build a straw bale home, or possibly renovate an old farmhouse, and sell framed prints among other things. So I’m going to read a bunch of articles here so I can get an idea of how it can be done, and what I can expect. Thanks for doing this blog, I look forward to exploring more stories about rural France.

    1. My daughter hopes to go to Uni in Paris from September. If she does I’ll get a chance to see something of the city. We haven’t got round to visiting yet, but then we’ve only been here 5 years! I much prefer the country life. Your plans sound fascinating so I hope they all work out. Do keep in touch.

  5. There was a discussion about taxing soft drinks in the US. I don’t think they got much further than that and the soft drinks industry instantly went on the attack with ads about the evil government telling the people what to eat and drink.

    Since I don’t drink them and eat “real” food, I understand Patrick’s opinion: Why should I pay health care fees (higher insurance)for people who get sick because they live on a junk food diet? On the other hand, taxing junk food is not going to make people stop eating it, as you said.

    Education must be the answer, but big business is big business and they are powerful.

    1. It’s a crazy tax. There are so many other unhealthy things out there that could equally be subject to a price hike for the sake of our waistlines. We eat healthily too with the odd indulgence. It doesn’t seem such a hard thing to do really, but advertising is a very powerful thing and it seems that the unhealthier the product, the more it’s pushed in adverts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *