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Brighton tackles obesity with special sugar tax on soft drinks

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Sugar-packed non-alcoholic soft drinks in Brighton will be getting a little bit more expensive this autumn with the proposal of a voluntary 10p ($0.15) levy across the city.

Businesses have been invited to join Jamie Oliver’s crusade against sugary drinks by charging the tax, with proceeds going to the Children’s Health Fund, managed by Sustain, where it will go toward children’s health and food education.

Oliver currently operates the optional charge in his own restaurants.

The campaign is part of a wider Sugar Smart City initiative that aims to improve Brighton and Hove’s general health.

Over 300 children had teeth extracted in hospital in 2012 to 2013, according to reports, while diet-related diseases cost some £80 million ($121.4 million) per year. Studies have shown, meanwhile, that a quarter of primary school leavers are overweight or obese in Brighton and Hove.

“Over the years sugar has been creeping into our diet, sometimes in ways we don’t even suspect,” Tom Scanlon, Brighton and Hove director of public health, said. “We are consuming more sugar than ever before and this is having extremely serious effects on levels of tooth decay, obesity and diabetes.”

The council is using the #SugarSmartCity hashtag to generate debate and discussion online.

Jamie Oliver has long campaigned for healthy eating in schools and homes alike. Earlier this year, he tried unsuccessfully to get a wider sugar tax adopted by the government. despite widespread public support.

A petition arguing that a 7p tax per regular can of soft drink could raise £1 billion per year to help tackle obesity and diet-related diseases received over 146,000 signatures.

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