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News / February 24, 2016

Northern Ireland dentists back sugar tax vote

by Guy Hiscott

The British Dental Association Northern Ireland has backed moves among MLAs to consult on the introduction of a tax on the sugary drinks that are fuelling an ‘avoidable epidemic’ of decay.

Northern Ireland has the worst oral health in the UK, with 72% of 15-year-olds having tooth decay, compared with 44% in England and 63% in Wales and there is a well-established association between poor oral health and socio-economic deprivation.

It remains unclear if the UK government will pursue any measures on sugar tax in its long awaited obesity strategy. The BDA is calling on all governments to keep all options on the table.

​Roz McMullan, chair of the BDA’s Northern Ireland Council, said: ‘It’s great to see real leadership on the sugar crisis from the Assembly.

‘Every day dentists are seeing the results of an avoidable epidemic, with tooth decay now the leading cause of hospital admissions among our children. The government should consider everything within its powers to tackle this preventable disease and reduce the misery it is causing our children, young people and their parents. That means keeping every option on the table, whether its action on education, marketing, or taxation.

‘MLAs are setting an example Westminster needs to follow. We have an opportunity to put prevention at the heart of healthcare policy, and our politicians must not let their personal prejudices stand in the way of meaningful debate.’