20 December 2018
On 4 December 2018, the Ministry of Health (“MOH”) and the Health Promotion Board (“HPB”) released a public consultation paper titled “Possible Measures for Pre-packaged Sugar-sweetened Beverages”, seeking the public’s views on possible measures that may be adopted to reduce Singaporeans’ intake of sugar from pre-packaged sugar-sweetened beverages (“SSBs”). The consultation closes on
25 January 2019.
Diabetes, the second leading cause of ill health in Singapore, is a serious public health problem in Singapore. High sugar intake is linked to increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and a significant proportion of Singaporeans’ sugar intake comes from pre-packaged SSBs, defined as drinks containing added sugar and juice with naturally occurring sugars. MOH has been adopting a multipronged approach to combat diabetes, encouraging healthier diets and active lifestyles.
The consultation paper seeks views on four possible measures, which are not mutually exclusive, towards pre-packaged SSBs. These are:
- Mandatory front-of-pack nutrition label: A mandatory front-of-pack nutrition label may help consumers identify less healthy SSBs, empowering them to make informed choices when purchasing beverages.
- Advertising regulations: Two possible options for reducing the influence of advertisements for less healthy SSBs are: (1) making the current voluntary guidelines limiting the advertising of less healthy food and drinks to children mandatory, and expanding the restrictions to include more television time-belts and media channels that children are exposed to; and (2) imposing a ban on advertising across all time-belts and mass media channels.
- Excise duty on manufacturers and importers: An excise duty on manufacturers and importers of pre-packaged SSBs could be imposed on the SSB industry (instead of consumers) to spur the industry to reduce sugar content in their drinks.
- Ban on higher-sugar pre-packaged SSBs: A nationwide ban on the sale of higher-sugar SSBs would reduce overall sugar intake from SSBs.