CNMI sugar tax a step closer

4:34 pm on 17 December 2015

A bill that will lead to a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks has passed the Northern Marianas House of Representatives.

The bill's proponents says the tax should serve to discourage the consumption of sweets, which are blamed for soaring rates of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

It would tax drinks, sugar sweetened syrups and powders at rate of just over one dollar 35 cents a litre.

The money would go to a new Special Healthcare Impact Account.

The aim is for this money to be evenly split between the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, to cover its outstanding debts, and programmes to raise awareness on obesity and other conditions such as diabetes.

The bill notes that a total of 173 patients are currently on dialysis in the Commonwealth due to diabetes and 30 percent of children in the CNMI are overweight or obese.