Jamie Oliver said the tax - which will fund primary school sports - was a "profound move"
The British Chancellor George Osborne has announced a sugar tax on soft drinks as part of his latest budget measures.
Mr Osborne told MPs: "Doing the right thing for the next generation is what this government and this Budget is about."
He added: "I am not prepared to look back at my time here in this Parliament, doing this job and say to my children's generation, 'I'm sorry, we knew there was a problem with sugary drinks and we knew it caused disease but we dumped the difficult decisions and did nothing'."
It is estimated the tax will raise £520m (more than €660m) for primary school sports.
There will be a "main rate charge for drink above 5 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres and a higher rate for drinks with more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres", the UK's treasury department says.
Chef Jamie Oliver, a vocal campaigner for a sugar tax, said Mr Osborne's announcement that he will tax the soft drinks industry was a "profound move".
We did it guys !!we did it !!! A sugar levy on sugary sweetened drinks ...... A profound move… https://t.co/0XkydLzLCo— Jamie Oliver (@jamieoliver) March 16, 2016
However, Gavin Partington, director general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said the move was "extremely" disappointing.
Prof Donal O’Shea, of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland policy group, has said a similar levy should be introduced here as “this is a very important step in tackling obesity.
"I am encouraged by the commitment of the four main political parties to introducing a sugar tax in their recent election manifestos. It can’t come a moment too soon as we continue to battle high rates of obesity in Ireland. One in four children in Ireland is overweight or obese," Prof O'Shea added.
Fine Gael's pre-election proposals included a 10c tax on cans of soft drinks.
The Health Minister Leo Varadkar had previously said he was disappointed that his request to see a sugar tax introduced in Budget 2016 was not approved.
A tax on sugar-sweetened drinks was one of the measures he had suggested as a means of tackling obesity among young people.
Minister Varadkar said he was looking at establishing a working group to examine the idea in advance of the next budget.