PAHO Director recommends more taxes on unhealthy foods

“I would recommend very highly that government considers taking measures, not to control people’s lives, but to make it harder for people to make the choices that are unhealthy,” she said earlier this week.

Etienne informed that the taxation and regulation recommendations were decided in 2007 at the United Nation’s General Assembly by heads of government that they would be included in the fight against Non Communicable Diseases (NCD’s).

“So it is not something that is coming out de nouveau,” she noted. “It’s not something that the government of Dominica is thinking out of its head, it is something that has certainly the backing at the UN level and at the regional level.”

When Dominica News Online asked whether all countries must comply bearing in mind their UN commitment, she responded that “every country is a sovereign country and if they committed to it, they then take action at the national level.”

“So it’s not an obligation but they committed and because they continue to have the problem,” she noted, adding that the commitment does not necessarily indicate the percentage in the increase of taxation.

“It is for the national government to make those decisions,” Dr. Etienne said. “But what we do know is there are many countries who have implemented these measures and it has led to many remarkable reduction in smoking, in the intake of salt and the importation of salt and sugar as well. So it works.”

Meantime Dominica’s Health Minister Dr. Kenneth Darroux said he is aware that the route of increased taxation on unhealthy foods is one many Caribbean countries are taking and the matter is being discussed “extensively” at cabinet level.

“We have had our sister island Barbados as an example to give us a little impetus in making certain decisions. But we will wait and see but it is certainly will be discussed highly, extensively at cabinet level,” he noted.

He added cabinet will discuss the matter in the next few weeks and he doesn’t want to preempt anything.


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