Smoking Taxes Will Save Lives

January 6, 2014 International Tax Cooperation

LONDON – Significantly hiking the taxes applied to cigarettes and other tobacco products would save millions of lives within a matter of years.

Last week the result of new research were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that nearly one third of all smokers in the world could be encouraged to drop the habit if the average rate of excise tax on tobacco was tripled.

It is estimated that the significant reduction in the number of smokers will prevent as many as 200 million premature deaths around the world within this century.

In the USA and Canada alone, the tax hike could prevent as many as 200 000 pre-mature deaths each year.

The authors of the report noted that tripling the rate of excise tax on cigarettes would, in some cases, more than double the retail price of cigarettes, significantly lowering their appeal to consumers.

Aside from the health benefits, the hike would also triple the tax revenues collected from tobacco products, which is currently estimated to be approximately USD 400 billion per year.

Despite the overall benefits of such a significant hike, the authors of the report conceded that tripling the tax rate will be difficult, and governments may instead aim to consistently hike tax rates at a rate slightly above inflation each, with occasional steeper increases every few years.

Photo by: Laura Nicola