Cigarette Taxes Touted by WHO as One of Best Ways to Cut Smoking

  • UN agency says governments aren’t taxing tobacco enough
  • Tobacco taxes generate $270 billion in revenue for governments

Tobacco taxes are one of the most effective ways to cut smoking rates, and one that countries are failing to take full advantage of, the World Health Organization said.

Governments get about $270 billion from tobacco taxes each year, the WHO said Tuesday. Imposing an 80-cent increase per pack globally could generate an additional $141 billion, according to the United Nations agency.

“Increasing tobacco tax and prices is one of the most-effective, yet least-utilized control measures that countries can use,” Douglas Bettcher, director of the WHO’s department on prevention of non-communicable diseases, said in a video interview. “Taxes aren’t popular with the tobacco industry, and that is why we at the WHO like them so much.”

More than 7.2 million people die each year from tobacco-related diseases, with 80 percent living in low- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO. Duties and excise charges make up more than two thirds of annual revenue at British American Tobacco Plc.

Saudi Arabia said this week it will apply a 100 percent tax on tobacco products next month.

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