Both sellers and consumers say fizzy and energy drinks consumption has come down. “There has been a 50 per cent drop in those buying sodas and other aerated drinks from my shop. Most of the walk-in customers now ask for juices instead. I used to stock more than 100 cans a day and by the end of the day, they were over. But now, not even half of the stock is finished. People are not only aware of the ill-effects of such drinks but are also bothered of the effect on their pockets,” said K Bala, a cafeteria attendant in Ruwi.
The drop in sales of these drinks since the imposition of the tax shows that the move is encouraging people to adopt healthy habits.
Mohammed al Balushi, a shopkeeper in Amerat, said, “We have noticed that the demand for soft drinks has dropped drastically. Earlier, many youngsters used too come and buy sodas but now they opt for juices or laban. Very few still go for aerated drinks. I am not sure if it is the increased price or health factor that has brought about this change. The sale of energy drinks has also gone down in our shop. RO1 is too much for them to spend on a drink probably.”
Muscat Daily also spoke to some consumers on the issue.
“A can of soda now costs 300bz whereas a juice bottle is available for 100bz. The introduction of sin tax has come as a wake-up call. Price rise is also a strong reason,” said Rashid al Dhawi, who was seen enjoying a pack of fruit juice.
Many feel sin tax has been introduced by the government for a good reason. “Diseases related to sugary drinks are on the rise and there are more people now living with diabetes in Oman. The food and drinks we consume are the primary cause of such diseases. Earlier, I used to drink a can of energy drink whenever I felt lazy but now, I think twice before I buy one. It has become expensive and moreover it is dangerous so I refrain from picking up such drinks,” said a consumer, Mohammed al Farsi, who works as a technician in Muscat.
The number of outdoor workers consuming soft drinks was also high earlier. For many, it was a luxury as it was quite cheap but sin tax has forced even them to opt for water when thirsty. “I used to buy soda for 150bz during my lunch time but now it costs 300bz. For people like me it used to be a luxury item. Now, I consume water on most days,” said M Jamal, a construction worker in Muscat.