Bad Habits, Hard Choices: Using the Tax System to Make Us Healthier

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fell-front-coverDavid Fell

Perspectives are essays on big ideas by leading writers, each given free rein and a modest word limit to reframe an issue of great contemporary interest. – Diane Coyle, Series Editor

Consumers in Britain face a curious mix of taxes and duties that are messy, opaque and out of date.  They are also unfair: the poorer you are, the more of your income goes to pay these taxes.

At the same time, we are ceaselessly bombarded by marketing information that is very one-sided.  The foods that make us fat, for example, are promoted a great deal more than the foods that could keep us healthy – and again it is mainly the poor that bear the brunt.

The author draws on insights from behavioural economics to take a fresh look at these issues. It concludes that there is a fair, inclusive, adaptable, affordable and resilient way of enabling us to eat healthily and to tackle the obesity crisis.

Wars have been started over taxes and there is, for most of us, an initial reluctance to accept more taxes. The case for taxes and negative taxes to improve public health is made in a clear and easily accessible style. The author shows us how taxes can be introduced and met with public acceptance, and how to manage initial public perceptions of them as ‘bad’. – Martin Caraher, Professor of Food and Health Policy, Centre for Food Policy, City University London

The fact that I read, at one sitting, a book on VAT is a tribute to Fell’s ability as a writer.  I liked the book very much – original, informative and well argued. – David Cadman, Visiting Professor at University College London and the University of Maryland

Fell’s book is really easy to read and accessible even to me. I love the way that the basic idea can so simply be extended to help create the socially, environmentally and financially fair society we seek. – Robin Stott, author of The Ecology of Health, co-chair Climate & Health Council

David Fell is a researcher, writer, presenter and activist in the field of sustainable economics.  He is director and co-founder of the research and strategy consultancy Brook Lyndhurst. David has a degree in economics from Cambridge University; 25 years’ research and strategy experience for clients in the government, private and not-for-profit sectors; and was a founding Commissioner on the London Sustainable Development Commission.

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