Manufacturers and distributors of sugary drinks in The Bahamas will have to contend with a ban on their products in government healthcare facilities and schools.
The ban will come into effect on December 1, said Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.
At first, the government had considered taxing such products but proceeded with a ban, which Sands said should have been implemented sooner as “people are killing themselves”.
He noted that the change will be easier to effect in government health facilities but said it will be more difficult to enforce in schools.
“The culprits are the people sitting outside of the gate. The culprit is the Parent Teacher Association who brings doughnuts to sell to raise money and sodas to sell to raise money,” he said.
“… even if we reduce consumption by five per cent or seven per cent we are going to save lives.”– Health Minister Dr Duane Sands
“If you go by any Government school on any morning and you look and see what people are selling, their response is: ‘We’re trying to make an honest living. We aren’t killing anyone or harming anyone. Hey, you need to deal with the people who shooting and stabbing and raping and killing.”
One solution which may be considered is having vendors be farther away from schools, Sands said, adding that a public education campaign will also help.
Ninety-two per cent of Bahamians drink between one and three cans of sugary drinks daily, a recent survey said, adding that the average citizen has 64 pounds of added sugar each year; more than the average American who has 52 pounds annually.
“You will never stop it because this is about trying to push back the tide but we have to push and even if we reduce consumption by five per cent or seven per cent we are going to save lives,” Sands said.
Bahamas follows Jamaica which placed a ban on sugary drinks from public health facilities o January 1 this year.
That announcement, made by the country’s Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton last year, was met by sweeping changes by leading manufacturers and distributors, including Wisynco and Lasco, which began to offer no, low and reduced sugar alternatives.