The government of Hungary has introduced a bill to raise taxes on fattening foods, which would make it the first nation to have such a law. Hungarians smoke and drink at high rates and traditionally eat foods rich in fat and salt. They also have one of the lowest life expectancy rates in Europe. The new tax has been called variously the “fat tax,” “hamburger tax,” or “crisps tax,” and will affect prepackaged food like soft drinks, chocolate bars, ice cream, cake, and chips—but not restaurant meals or fast food. Tax on liquor and soft drinks will be increased by 10 percent, while other items with high fat, sugar, or salt, will get a 3.7 eurocent fee. Hungary, heavily in debt, already has a high sales tax—25 percent on most food items. The country plans to funnel the proceeds, which could total 111 million euro per year, into health care. The bill is expected to pass in parliament this summer, and would go into effect on January 1, 2012. The European food and drink industry is fighting the measure, saying it is discriminates against low-income consumers.
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