Monday, 4 May 2015

Salt taxes

So, the usual suspects reckon a salt tax would be a great idea in New Zealand:
First they pushed to tax fizzy drink, now public health advocates want a "salt tax" slapped on everything from hot chips to pretzels.

In a paper published in the Plos One international journal, Otago University of Wellington academics including health experts and economists argued we need to be weaned off our salt heavy diet.

This could include enforcing limits on the supply of salt, or taxing the ingredient before it was even added to your bread, tomato sauce or packet of chips.
Robin Hanson pointed to issues in the salt literature a few years ago:
A new JAMA study finds a strong correlation: the third of folks who eat the least salt die over three times as often as the third of folks who eat the most salt. Yet other studies almost as big find contrary effects. I find it quite disturbing that such big studies can show such different results; something is very wrong in big diet correlation study land.
Nick Wilson, in the NZ piece, argues that
"Politically it's something that a government could do to save a lot of money with no public outcry."
Yeah, there's never civil unrest associated with salt taxes.


  1. I would hope that any new tax would provoke some sort of public outcry. We'll always want to at least talk about it before submitting to it... I hope.

  2. Read this in the paper this morning - thought you would bite.

  3. Hmm. I recall several years ago nutritionists expressing concern that goitres were going to become common again. The problem was that the iodine deficiency that had led to goitres in the past had been prevented through adding iodine to salt, but that the message that salt is bad for you had become so widely accepted and led to diet changes that iodine deficiency was becoming more common!

  4. We'll need mandatory iodine fortification in bread to counteract the decline in iodine-from-salt.

  5. But we will have to tax the white bread, as that has a GI similar to refined sugar, but then what if the induced substitution is not from white bread to wholemeal, but from white bread to buns and cheesymite scrolls......