23 Jan

Health campaigners call for tax on sugar-laden alcoholic pre-mixed drinks

Health campaigners are calling for elevated tax rates to be applied to sugary pre-mixed alcoholic drinks. 

Action on Sugar representatives believe that people are consuming more sugar than they realise as a result of buying drinks like pre-mixed cocktails and canned spirits and mixers. A team based at Queen Mary University of London found that some popular drinks contain up to 8 teaspoons of sugar per 250ml serving. 

According to research conducted by the campaign group, 250ml cans of Archers and lemonade and Malibu and cola contain 33g of sugar. The worst offender in the gin and tonic category was Classic Combinations Pink Gin and Tonic, which contained 27g of sugar. This equates to the same content as a can of Coke. Another concern for the team was the lack of information provided on the packaging. Around 90% of the products analysed did not contain clear information about the sugar content. 

Chair of the group and professor of cardiovascular medicine at Queen Mary University of London, Graham MacGregor, said that it was a “national scandal” that these drinks were not eligible for the sugar tax or subject to nutritional information guidelines because they contain alcohol. Prof MacGregor has urged the government to take note of the research and to introduce measures to increase taxes on these products, many of which contain a similar amount of sugar to fizzy drinks.

The move has also been backed by Prof Sir Ian Gilmore, chair of the Alcohol Health Alliance. Consumers should be able to see what exactly what they’re drinking, and the current labelling system, Prof Sir Gilmore believes, is not working. There is also a concern that manufacturers are not taking their “responsibilities seriously.”

Current guidelines suggest that adults should consume a maximum of 30g of sugar per day, which means that a single can of Malibu and cola would exceed the recommended daily intake.