Cigarette Taxes Need to Be Hiked in SEA

May 26, 2014 International Tax Cooperation

taxes on tobaccoMANILA – Tobacco taxes in South East Asia are too low, and the minuscule prices of cigarettes are not doing enough to discourage people from the habit.

Late last week the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) held a workshop in Manila attended by government official of countries of South East Asia dedicated to discussion of the importance of raising taxes on tobacco taxes, in order to minimize the preventable death associated with smoking.

In his opening speech addressing the participants of the workshop, the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Shin Young-soo stated that the despite the global trend to increase the taxation of tobacco products, the excise taxes in South East Asia are still too low compared to the developed world, and, as a result, the smoking rate in some of the countries in the region has actually increased over the last three decades.

Shin Young-soo also said that due to the low taxes, the cost of cigarettes is not a large enough deterrent to stop youths from taking up smoking, compounding the problem of tobacco use as the number of younger smokers increases.

He added that the most effective methods of encouraging cessation, or to discourage people from taking up the habit, was to raise the price of tobacco for consumers, saying that “…we know that restructuring tobacco prices and taxes would significantly reduce tobacco consumption and prevent unnecessary suffering and death from cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic respiratory diseases.”

Photo by: SuperFantastic