Unless you’ve been living on a deserted island for the past 80 years, you know how bad smoking is for your health and the health of those around you. Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our world today! Some new proposed guidelines recently published may change this global trend.
“The two certainties in life are death and taxes. We want higher tobacco taxes and fewer tobacco deaths,” said Richard Peto, the author of the new report. “Price is the key determinant of smoking uptake and cessation.”
This is especially the case for new smokers who are quite young when they begin this habit. Or in the case of people who are thinking of quitting, this policy may give them the added incentive to finally butt-out!
The proposal would currently triple the taxes on tobacco products in mid-lower income countries which would effectively double the price of a package of cigarettes. The hope is that the price would deter people from taking up smoking and encourage others to finally quit smoking. The authors of the new report also suggest that this new proposal would inevitably reduce cigarette intake by approximately 30%, which would meet the current target set by the World Health Assembly.
“This would prevent several tens of millions of tobacco-attributable deaths during the next few decades…mostly among people who are already alive, both by helping smokers to quit and by helping adolescents not to start,” said Peto.
The authors of this new report also contend that this policy could prevent approximately 200 million deaths globally by the year 2100!
Similar policies have been instituted in other counties like France and South Africa. In France from 1990-2005, the cost of buying a pack of smokes tripled which resulted in a 50% reduction in smoking prevalence! In South Africa, much the same has occurred following large increases in cigarette taxation over the last 15 years. Good for them!!!
Other countries like Mexico, Turkey, and Poland have begun to institute increases in taxation to lower smoking rates. Although other policies have been implemented such as bans upon cigarette smoking in public places, stricter restrictions upon advertising, and changes to cigarette packaging, the price of the product has been the most effective measure to lower smoking rates.
I have no problem with this policy if it will reduce the number of smokers and prevent the youngest members of our society from starting this terrible addictive scourge upon their health. Smoking causes high rates of heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases like emphysema, and many types of cancers including those of the lung, esophagus, mouth, and larynx. Smoking causes chronic ill health, increased medical costs, lost productivity, and a rather large economic burden to society. This is not to mention the considerable effects that second-hand smoke has on non-smokers.
“Hiking up the taxes would also have the additional benefit of increasing money coming into governments, which could be used to fund tobacco-control programs or broader health efforts,” said Peto. “Much of the revenue from the 2009 U.S. taxation increase of 53 cents per pack of 20 cigarettes is allocated to expand children’s health insurance.”
Chustecka, Z.,“No Butts: Raise Tobacco Tax to Prevent Premature Deaths,”Medscape website;http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/818597, last accessed Jan. 6, 2014.
Jha, P., et al.,“Global Effects of Smoking, of Quitting, and of Taxing Tobacco,”N Engl J Med 2014; 370:60-68.