Alcohol and sodas should be taxed more to encourage healthier lifestyles and save millions of lives each year, WHO says

The World Heath Organization called on countries to increase taxes on alcohol and sugary drinks to counter their negative effects on global health. 

Raising excise taxes on alcohol and sweetened beverages is the most effective way to reduce consumption while generating revenue, the WHO said in a statement Tuesday.

Globally, some 2.6 million people die from drinking alcohol each year and more than 8 million die from an unhealthy diet, the group said. Most countries under-utilize taxation as a tool to improve public health, said the WHO. 

Higher taxes could also act as an incentive for the development of healthier products, while preventing injuries and noncommunicable diseases like cancer and heart disease.

The WHO found that in most countries alcoholic beverages have become more affordable over time. The group cited a 2017 study that showed increasing alcohol prices by 50% could prevent more than 21 million deaths and generate almost $17 trillion over 50 years.  

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