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Strengthening prevention of nutrition-related non- communicable diseases through sugar-sweetened beverages tax in Rwanda: A policy landscape analysis

Ruhara, C.M.
Karim, S.A.
Erzse, A.
Thow, A-M.
Ntirampebad, S.
Hofman, K.J.
Background: Food and beverages high in sugar are recognized to be among the major risk factors for nutrition-related non-communicable diseases. The growing presence of ultra-processed food producers has resulted in shifts to diets that are associated with non-communicable diseases and which include sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverage taxation presents an opportunity to prevent non-communicable diseases but it comes with challenges. Objectives: To describe the policy landscape, identify and analyse the facilitators of and barriers to strengthening taxation on sugar-sweetened beverages in Rwanda. Methods: We conducted a desk-based policy analysis to assess the facilitators of and barriers to strengthening sugary beverage taxation policy. We consulted eight stakeholders to validate the findings of the desk review. Results: Non-communicable diseases are recognized as a public health challenge in Government health and non-health policy documents. However, sugar intake is not explicitly identified as a risk factor for non-communicable diseases and existing policies do not clearly aim to reduce sugar consumption. The Rwandan Government's commitment to growing the local sugar industry and the substantial economic contribution of Rwandan beverage producers are potential barriers to fiscal policies aimed at reducing sugar consumption. However, the current 39% excise tax levied on all soft drinks could support the adoption of future sugar-sweetened beverage policies. Conclusions: The landscape for strengthening a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Rwanda is complex. The policy environment provides both facilitators of and impediments to strengthening the existing tax. A differential tax could be introduced by leveraging on the existing excise tax and linking it to the sugar content of beverages.
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Taylor and Francis
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NCD prevention,SSB taxation,Fiscal policies,Sugar-sweetened beverages
Ruhara CM, Abdool Karim S, Erzse A, Thow AM, Ntirampeba S, Hofman KJ. Strengthening prevention of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases through sugar-sweetened beverages tax in Rwanda: a policy landscape analysis. Glob Health Action. 2021 Jan 1;14(1):1883911. doi: 10.1080/16549716.2021.1883911.
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