Sky-high sin taxes on meat have been branded “inevitable” in Britain after a study asserted that the move could “save hundreds of thousands of lives” as well as helping stop climate change.
Researchers at Oxford University urged ministers to consider the move, claiming that hiking the cost of red meat by 14 per cent and processed meat by 79 per cent could prevent 5,920 deaths in Britain a year and save the NHS an annual sum of £750 million on healthcare costs.
Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann, from the Nuffield Department of Population Health at Oxford University, said: “The consumption of red and processed meat exceeds recommended levels in most high and middle-income countries.
“This is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded in many countries, and on the economy, which is losing its labour force due to ill health and care for family members who fall ill.
I hope that governments will consider introducing a health levy on red and processed meat as part of a range of measures to make healthy and sustainable decision-making easier for consumers.
“A health levy on red and processed meat would not limit choices, but send a powerful signal to consumers and take pressure off our healthcare systems.”
The Institute for Economic Affairs’ Chris Snowdon described the numbers in the study as “unfeasibly large”, stating that even if one takes the “outlandish” health claims to be true, the authors appear to have made “a classic mistake” of so-called public health research when calculating potential healthcare savings.
It also claims that processed and red meat kill 2.4 million people a year. This is nonsense, the figures, obviously plucked out of thin air, are seventeen times higher than the previous estimate (from last September).
Pointing out that “people who live to a ripe old age tend to cost a lot of money”, he explained in the Spectator that studies of this kind often make the assumption that “someone who avoids a diet-related disease will avoid every other disease and never trouble the health service again”. In fact it is impossible to prove an 80 year old meat eather with bowel cancer developed the disease as a result of eating meat. by the same criterium it is also impossible to prove that a healthy 90 year old vegetarian would not have stayed healthy so long had they eaten a steak or a chop occasionally.
“An unholy alliance of ‘public health’ campaigners, environmentalists and vegetarians will be working night and day to make this happen. Taxing food is the next battleground for the nanny state,” the Institute of Economic Affairs’ (IEA) director of lifestyle economics told The Sun newspaper.