Starting this summer, the B.C. government will add provincial sales tax (PST) to all carbonated beverages containing sugar or natural or artificial sweeteners.
The announcement says the sweet drinks, which the Canada Food Guide warns against consuming, will no longer qualify for the ‘food products for human consumption’ exemption under the provincial tax.
The seven per cent tax will also be extended to all beverages dispensed through soda fountains, soda guns or similar equipment, as well as all beverages in vending machines, with the exception of those dedicated to serving drinks other than sweet drinks such as coffee or water.
B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said the tax measure comes in response to repeated recommendations from health experts, including the Medical Services Premium Task Force.
“I hope ultimately we do see a reduction in the sales of sugary drinks and sweetened beverages,” she said, adding lobby groups have pushed for a more expansive tax on everything from juice to sweetened milk. “We feel this is taking a step in addressing the risk when it comes to sweetened beverages.”
In its 2020-2021 fiscal plan, the government says “deterrence effects” are expected to be most prevalent in frequent pop drinkers – of whom young males are the highest demographic. The government says sweet drink consumption is higher in youth aged 14 to 18.
The sweet drinks PST will be introduced on July 1.
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