Higher Tobacco Taxes Should Be More Widely Implemented

Project Syndicate: Taxing Tobacco
Oleg Chestnov, assistant director general of the WHO noncommunicable diseases and mental health program, and Tim Evans, senior director of health, nutrition, and population global practice at the World Bank Group

“…According to the latest WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, levying taxes on tobacco is one of the cheapest and most effective measures to prevent death and suffering. Unfortunately, it is a tool that few countries are using. … According to a WHO report, only 33 countries levy sufficiently high taxes on tobacco, amounting to at least 75 percent of the retail price of cigarettes. This means that only one in 10 people worldwide benefits from this measure. … Governments have made tremendous progress in the fight against the tobacco epidemic … but many could be doing much more if they were willing to raise taxes on tobacco. Our organizations, the WHO and the World Bank Group, believe that it is a moral and economic imperative to support every possible measure of tobacco control. Taxes on tobacco — the least expensive, least implemented, and most effective tool in the fight to reduce the use of this deadly product — should not be left unimplemented…” (7/7).