Two in five Singaporeans support a sugar tax

Kim HoPR Manager
July 12, 2019, 2:50 AM GMT+0

Sugar considered more addictive than nicotine and alcohol

While the Ministry of Health mulls over measures to impose a tax on high-sugar drinks, latest YouGov research finds out how many Singaporeans are in favour of this.

Two in five (42%) support the implementation of a sugar tax, while the remaining three in five (58%) oppose it. Support is higher amongst university degree holders than non-degree holders (50% vs. 35%). High-income earners (those earning more than SGD 8,000 a month) are also more likely to support the tax than low-income earners (those earning less than SGD 4,000 a month) (47% vs. 35%).

While close to half (46%) of Singaporeans see sugar tax as beneficial to Singaporeans, a quarter (25%) think it to detrimental. The remaining three in ten (28%) are undecided. Low-income earners are more likely to think of sugar tax as detrimental than higher-income earners (30% vs. 24%).

Overall, over one in twenty (7%) Singaporeans drink soft drinks daily. One quarter (26%) does so weekly, a third (32%) monthly, and a quarter (26%) on a yearly basis. Only one in ten (9%) do not drink soft drinks at all.

A sugar tax would impact people’s soft drink consumption in different ways. Half (52%) see themselves drinking less should a sugar tax be imposed, and a quarter (23%) will stop drinking them entirely. The remaining one quarter (23%) will continue drinking the same amount and 1% will consume more soft drinks.

Besides a sugar tax, the Ministry of Health is also considering a complete ban on the sale of high-sugar drinks. Three in five (58%) Singaporeans are in favour of this. Singaporeans with diabetes (who make up 6% of the population) are more likely to support a ban than those without (68% vs. 58%). Older Singaporeans (aged 55 and above) are also more likely to support a ban than younger Singaporeans (68% vs. 45%).

When asked to rank various substances from most addictive to least addictive, sugar came in second place (18%), following drugs (41%). Sugar came ahead of substances like caffeine (16%), nicotine (14%), alcohol (6%) and salt (6%).

Jake Gammon, Head of Omnibus APAC at YouGov Omnibus commented: “Singapore might have declared a war on diabetes, but not all are in favour of the proposed measures. Low-income earners in particular are more likely to have a negative view of a sugar tax, with a significant percentage thinking it to be detrimental. Whether a ban or a tax, people’s views on sugar are bound to be polarising, especially as it deals with a substance that Singaporeans deem more addictive than nicotine.”

***Results based on 1,132 Singaporeans surveyed by YouGov Omnibus