The low rates of taxes on alcohol and carbonated soft drinks highlight that “most countries are not using taxes to incentivize healthier behaviors,” the body estimated.
According to the analysis, 108 States apply specific tax requirements to sugary drinks and 148 to alcohol. However, wines are exempt from such obligations in 22 countries, most of them in Europe.
On a global scale, the proportion of excise taxes in the price of the best-selling brand of beer is, on average, 17 percent and 26.5 percent for the best-selling brand of the spirit type.
Increasing taxes on alcoholic beverages by 50 percent could save 21 million lives over half a century and generate $17 billion annually in additional tax revenue, the WHO said based on a 2017 study.
Taxing unhealthy products creates healthier populations and has a positive ripple effect throughout society: less disease and debilitation and income for governments to provide public services, said WHO Health Promotion Director Rudiger Krech.
In the case of alcohol, he added, taxes also help prevent violence and injuries from traffic accidents. According to the WHO, every year 2.6 million people die on the planet due to excess alcohol consumption and more than eight million due to unhealthy diets.