French Parliament pushes ‘fast-food’ tax


A senatorial report proposes a junk-food tax on products that cause cardiovascular diseases. The tax aims specifically at soft drinks, which currently benefit from low taxes. EURACTIV France reports.

Similar to steps taken by other European countries, a new junk-food tax is doing the rounds in the French parliament.

On 19 March, the French Senate presented a report, ‘Taxation and public health: evaluation of behavioural taxation’. The aim of the report is to evaluate a behavioural tax to counter poor dietary habits, which could compensate for the public health costs associated with the consumption of junk-food.

>> Read: European obesity on the rise: Study

The report underlines that “if the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food is deemed high risk in relation to public health, then they are synonymous to considerable costs to society. Behavioural taxation could therefore be envisaged as a way to reduce costs and generate the funds necessary to offset their negative externalities.”

Taxing energy drinks

The report calls for harmonised taxes on vegetable oils, and to apply a 20% tax on soft drinks, with a view to limiting the risks of cardiovascular diseases and the risk of cardiovascular events, in particular.

>> ReadResearchers find direct link between sugar and cardiovascular disease

According to the report, “Behavioural taxation aims to reduce the consumption of drinks known to cause serious cardiac accidents in genetically predisposed consumers, notably by implementing a tax on energy drinks.”

Contribution to public health

The senators who led the report, Yves Daudigny (socialist) and Catherine Deroche (UMP), encourage talk of “contribution to public health” and not the frequently used term “behavioural taxation”.

“The term behavioural taxation has a moralistic nature and makes the citizen feel guilty. Our objective is to say that certain products are unhealthy. The fact that these products are subject to a tax which contributes to public health, seems completely coherent”, said Senator Catherine Deroche.

Approximately four million people in Europe and 1.5 million people in the EU die of cardiovascular disease each year, according to the European Heart Network (EHN) and the European Society for Cardiology (ESC). The main forms of heart disease are coronary heart disease and stroke.

To reduce the number of deaths from heart disease, the European state members have agreed to tackle the underlying health determinants behind cardiovascular health in its 2014-2020 health programme.

A key element in fighting cardiovascular disease is to address the underlying health determinants, including bad cholesterol, tobacco use, obesity, diet, physical activity and high blood pressure.

  • Beginning of April: Report will be preented to the Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine
  • Summer 2015 : Council of Ministers will present a public health legislation in response to the report

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