Italy health minister mulls France-style drinks tax

ROME Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:48pm IST

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ROME Aug 27 (Reuters) - Italy's health minister is considering the inclusion of a tax on drinks deemed unhealthy in a spending bill due to go before the Italian cabinet later this week, a health ministry official said on Monday.

The official confirmed Health Minister Renato Balduzzi may propose a drinks tax of 3 euro cents a bottle to raise revenues of 250 million euros ($312.9 million), but did not clarify which beverages would be affected.

"It is a nudge to mothers and fathers towards a more suitable diet," Balduzzi told the daily La Repubblica, adding that revenue raised could be used for public health costs.

The official said Balduzzi was gauging public reaction to the suggestion before deciding whether to include the measure in the bill, which aims to reform health spending as the country grapples with a financial crisis and a large debt burden.

France last year put a tax on soft drinks to help combat increasing obesity. The measure is expected to raise 280 million euros this year.

Lawmakers in the United States have also considered a similar law, but have come up against opposition from the beverage industry.

Nestle, Coca Cola Co and Sanpellegrino Group are key drinks sellers in the Italian market.

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