I think Mr Polman's point - that the tax is not in itself the Holy Grail and that a more holistic response is required from all stakeholders - is well made.
It does however need to said that among its peers, Unilever has arguably placed the biggest bet in this area with its brave, commendable (not to mention "so much more than just a press release") Sustainable Living Plan.
I've worked in the past with some of the Unilever players who are pushing the agenda forwards. This is a real programme, with real action, meaningful and tangible targets and, so far, significant impacts beyond the predictable halo effect around their brand communications.
The challenge for the company is matching its undeniable sincerity, along with the difference the programme is making in the world, with its impact on its bottom line. In other words, making consumers in more developed economies, who are not directly threatened by dangerous diseases and profound deprivation, care enough about these initiatives to improve brand equity and loyalty.
With this in mind, it's commercially in Mr Polman's interests - and this is categorically not an accusation of cynicism: he does an outstanding job of balancing principle with profit - to push back a little on the sugar tax. It's too easy for an affluent consumer who is troubled neither by poverty nor a painful concern with the state and future of the planet and its underprivileged people, nor indeed the familial or social problem of obesity and related health concerns, to both shrug off the extra cost that the tax would add, and, more worryingly, assume that simply by paying the tax, that the problem would then lie firmly in the hands of government.
This would arguably dilute the social effects and brand differentiation conferred by Unilever's noble work on its products and its revenues, while solving not nearly enough of the larger problem, which is that far too many people are getting progressively both fatter and sicker, because they are eating far too much of the wrong nutrition.
There is, of course, a further dimension that needs to be acknowledged here, which is the sheer power of the global sugar lobby, in particular in the USA. Michael Bloomberg, then the mayor of NYC, famously took on Big Sugar several years ago, trying to achieve a ban of super-sized sodas, whose sugar content (or aspartame, if you like - neither flavouring is appealing in terms of health) had been well-documented and publicised.
Mr Bloomberg, a man of rare substance and influence, just bounced off the machine like a well-intentioned rag doll.
So, this is not a matter of simple logic, or plain justice. The debate lands, again and again, among some of the most powerful vested commercial and political interests on the planet.
In the meantime, Unilever's declared schedule of replacing aspartame with stevia in an increasing range of its products seems to me a strong and honest response from one of the world's leading manufacturers, and hats off to that.
Consumers, for now, can do little more than look very closely at ingredients, and perhaps more fundamentally, get real about their relationship with sugar, a substance that, for its goodness and pleasure, is very much a drug.