Inside Israel

Israel hikes tax on sweetened drinks in bid to encourage healthy lifestyle

Israelis will now have to pay more for their favorite soft drinks after the Knesset gave final approval to a decree hiking taxes on sweetened beverages.

The decision, first approved by Finance Committee, was okayed by the Knesset okayed overnight Monday-Tuesday in a 57-56 decision.

The move came into immediate effect.

It raises the price for every liter of sugary drink by NIS 1 ($0.32). For diet drinks — defined as having less than five grams of sugar per 100 milliliters — the addition is 70 agorot ($0.23) per liter.

The decree’s authors explained that Health Ministry figures point to sugary drinks as accounting for 30-40 percent of Israelis’ consumption of added sugar that doesn’t exist naturally in foods.

They said this was a key contributor to obesity in Israel, since research shows many Israeli children drink sweetened beverages every day, placing the country at a worryingly high place in worldwide rankings of sugar consumption.

They cited the examples of other countries — including Britain, France, Finland and Mexico — that have imposed similar taxes in an attempt to encourage a healthy lifestyle, and cited research showing they can significantly lower the consumption of sugary drinks in the long term.

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