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BMJ. Oct 16, 2004; 329(7471): 918.
PMCID: PMC523164
Salt tax could reduce population's salt intake
Nick Wilson, senior lecturer (public health)
Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Otago University, Wellington, New Zealand ; nwilson/at/actrix.gen.nz
Editor—Eaton's news item on the campaign to reduce salt intake by the UK's food safety watchdog describes processed foods as a key factor in high population salt intakes.1 A comparatively simple way to reduce the use of salt by manufacturers of processed food would be to introduce a salt tax.
The potential public health and economic benefits of a salt tax as part of a range of interventions reducing salt has been identified in modelling work.2 Good evidence exists around the impact of existing excise taxes on protecting public health from tobacco related harm and alcohol misuse.3,4
Furthermore, the revenue from a salt tax could be used to fund information initiatives on nutrition or to subsidise an expansion of programmes that provide nutritious foods (such as fresh fruit) to schoolchildren. Such uses of the tax revenue would also be important to ensure public acceptability of a salt tax.
Notes
Competing interests: None declared.
References
1. Eaton L. Food agency launches campaign to reduce salt intake. BMJ 2004;329: 644. (18 September.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Selmer RM, Kristiansen IS, Haglerod A, et al. Cost and health consequences of reducing the population intake of salt. J Epidemiol Community Health 2000;54: 697-702. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
3. Hopkins DP, Briss PA, Ricard CJ, et al. Reviews of evidence regarding interventions to reduce tobacco use and exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Am J Prev Med 2001;20(2S): 16-66. [PubMed]
4. Chaloupka FJ, Grossman M, Saffer H. The effects of price on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems. Alcohol Res Health 2002;26: 22-34. [PubMed]
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