The celebrity chef has introduced a 10p tax on fizzy drinks across his 46 restaurants and is calling on the government to be ‘brave’ in introducing a nationwide levy of 20 per cent per litre.
But Martin has slammed the plans as being potentially fatal to the struggling pub trade.
“A new tax on soft drinks will cost pubs millions at a time when prices in pubs are already very high compared to supermarkets,” he said.
“Jamie Oliver runs restaurants which cater to an affluent clientele. He is either courting the favour of the elite or is badly out of touch with the majority of people.”
It is estimated that a tax of 7p per regular sized drink could generate an additional £1bn a year to fund children’s health programmes.
But Martin is arguing that the chef should campaign for tax equality between pubs, restaurants and supermarkets instead of regulating sugar.
“Pubs and restaurants pay 20 per cent VAT on food sales, compared to zero for supermarkets,” he said.
“Showboating of this kind by Jamie Oliver will close pubs.”
Martin explained that Pepsi is now the company’s biggest selling draught product, with 580,000 drinks served in the past seven days - 197,000 of which were Diet Pepsi.
In the same period Wetherspoon’s 950 pubs sold almost one million coffees and teas, which were served sugar-free.
He said: “Sales of non-sugar drinks in the non-alcoholic category are increasing at a rapid rate and are in the great majority, when you take into account coffee and tea.
“Customers already pay a lot for soft drinks when they go out and we don’t need another ‘big brother’ tax.”