MPs will debate the creation of a tax on sugar-added soft drinks in Parliament next week.
The debate comes after a petition by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver secured more than 151,600 signatures on the Downing Street website (Parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate).
The debate is scheduled to take place at 4.30pm on Monday 30 November.
Health experts and Oliver believe that a tax of 7p per regular-sized can of soft drink with added sugar could generate £1bn per year and reduce consumption.
Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA), said the evidence from other countries which had introduced soft drinks taxes did “not support” the argument that taxes led to reduced consumption.
Both Belgium and Denmark rejected the notion of a tax in 2013 and evidence from France shows that while sales of soft drinks initially fell after a tax was introduced in 2012, they have increased since. In 2013 volumes grew again by 0.5% and by the end of 2014 sales were up 1%, the BSDA said.
“By contrast, the efforts by soft drinks companies including product reformulation, smaller pack sizes and increased promotion of low and no calorie drinks have led to a 7% reduction in calories from soft drinks in the last three years,” Partington added.
Ian Wright, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, also criticised the tax: “Additional burdensome taxes on foods or drinks, on top of the already enforced 20% VAT on many foods and drinks, would be regressive, ineffective and unworkable. This complex challenge needs a complex solution, one which involves and empowers people, not taxes them,” he said.