Tobacco use costs the world over USD 1.4 trillion annually from health expenditures and lost productivity, says the World Health Organization (WHO), which, on 12 April 2021, released a new technical manual on tobacco tax policy and administration, an update of its 2010 publication. This latest report comes with a clear message: a robust tobacco tax policy is an effective strategy to promote public health and generate revenues to support governments as they work towards their sustainable development goals and build back better after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The manual presents best practices from countries that have successfully implemented tobacco tax policies and achieved both health and revenue objectives. The report also reiterates that significant increases in excise tax that lead to less affordable tobacco products are highly effective in reducing tobacco consumption.
SEATCA’s Tobacco Tax Index shows that while some ASEAN countries have made progress in formulating and implementing tobacco tax policies, the region as a whole has advanced slowly in the past few years, as tobacco taxes and prices have been outpaced by economic and income growth.
“The evidence is clear. Increasing tobacco taxes not only translates into reduced tobacco consumption, but also empowers governments to effectively create a revenue stream to fund health programs and other development priorities. This is particularly important for economic recovery during this pandemic,” noted SEATCA Executive Director Dr. Ulysses Dorotheo.
The WHO manual reminds governments that raising tobacco taxes is SMART: it Saves lives; Mobilizes resources; Addresses health inequities; Reduces health system costs; and Targets non-communicable risk factors towards achieving sustainable development. Increasing taxes on tobacco products should also be part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy that includes comprehensive advertising bans, standardized packaging with large pictorial warnings, and public smoking bans that effectively denormalises the tobacco industry and tobacco use.
Image Attribution: “World Health Organization” by US Mission Geneva is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
Val Bugnot, Media and Communications Officer, SEATCA
- SEATCA Tobacco Tax Index Infographics
- WHO: US$ 1.4 trillion lost every year to tobacco use - New tobacco tax manual shows ways to save lives, money and build back better after Covid-19
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral non-governmental alliance promoting health and saving lives by assisting ASEAN countries to accelerate and effectively implement the tobacco control measures contained in the WHO FCTC. Acknowledged by governments, academic institutions, and civil society for its advancement of tobacco control in Southeast Asia, the WHO bestowed on SEATCA the World No Tobacco Day Award in 2004 and the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award in 2014. For more information, visit https://seatca.org/.
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