UAE Cabinet announced that they will apply additional sin taxes on sugar products and electronic smoking devices, starting January 2020
20 August 2019| Last updated on 25 August 2019
The list of products will include any product added with sugar or sweetener
The UAE is ranked among the top daily consumers in the world for sugar, with an average resident taking an unhealthy average of over 200 kg per - equivalent to 146 teaspoons of sugar every day for each person.
To tackle the country's increasing sugar addiction and consumption of unhealthy foods, the UAE Cabinet announced that they will be expanding the list of taxable products. This list consists of sweetened drinks and electronic smoking devices, effective on 1st January, 2020.
The decision was adopted to support the UAE government's steps towards enhancing public health and minimise diseases with strong links to sugar and tobacco.
According to a statement from the Cabinet General Secretariat, an additional tax of 50% will be placed on any product with added sugar or sweetener, including beverages, powders, extracts, concentrate, or any other product that can be turned into a consumable drink.
In addition, manufacturers are required to clearly label on the package regarding the sugar levels and whether extra sugar was added. This will enable buyers to make healthier decisions. Other products likely included in the list are juices, yogurts, milkshakes, and more.
A tax of 100% will be levied on electronic smoking devices regardless of whether or not it contains tobacco or nicotine. The same tax will also be applied to all liquids used for electronic smoking devices, with the aim of reducing public usage of the product.
This isn't the first time the UAE levied a sin tax on such products. In 2017, the UAE implemented a 50% tax on all sugary and energy drinks, and a 100% tax on smoking products in a move to curb residents' consumption.
Dubai eats more sugar than recommended
One of the key contributions to why the UAE government is stacking up the prices is the nation's rising diabetes epidemic.
Studies from the International Diabetes Federation found that over 17% of the UAE population between the ages of 20 - 79 have Type 2 diabetes, counting for over 1 million people.
A population and health study conducted showed that almost 70% of all Emirati men under 30 are obese with a case of diabetes. Another research report estimates that diabetes cases in the region will increase by 110% before 2045.
Further data saw that the average UAE resident consumes typically 103 litres of soft drinks in a year.
Eating sugar can create a short-term burst of positive energy in the body as it triggers a release of dopamine. It pumps you up. It makes you happy. Its appetising taste, combined with emotional eating and mainstream humour with "I have a chocolate addiction!" leads to a downward spiral to more cravings and the potential development of chronic diseases.
Here are some of the health risks of eating too much sugar:
- Mental health - mood swings and brain development
- Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
What drinks are exempted from the new UAE sin tax?
The following beverages will not be taxed:
- Ready to drink beverages with at least 75% milk
- Ready to drink beverages with at least 75% milk substitutes
- Baby formula
- Soft baby food
- Beverages for special dietary needs that follow Standard 654 of the GCC Standardisation Organisation under the heading “General Requirements for Pre-packaged Foods for Special Dietary Use”
- Beverages for medical use, as determined under Standard 1366 of the GCC Standardisation Organisation under the heading “General Requirements for Handling of Foods for Special Medical Purposes"