The Knesset Finance Committee has injected a sour note into the sale of sweetened drinks with the approval Tuesday of a new tax that will apply to nearly all the beverages on the market.
Sugared drinks, diet drinks and even natural juice will be taxed, beginning in January 2022.
The decision is likely to impact thousands of small business owners, restaurants and kiosks as well as larger supermarkets.
The goal, lawmakers say, is to reduce the public’s heavy consumption of sweetened beverages and compel Israelis to switch to water in the battle against obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular disease and dental caries.
Drinks sweetened with more than five grams of sugar per 100 milliliters (ml) will be taxed at one shekel ($0.32) per liter.
Diet drinks and natural juice will be taxed somewhat less, at 70 agorot ($0.22) per liter.
Natural grape juice – consumed on the Sabbath each week and at every holiday for the initial blessing on each of two meals in nearly all Israeli Jewish households – will be exempt from the tax.
Lemon juice, which is used in cooking and at the table at least weekly and in many households – Jewish, Muslim and Christian – will likewise be exempt.