To what extent do national policies on tobacco taxation align with international best practice, and how can these be improved and enforced to reduce tobacco consumption?
Raising the price of tobacco products via taxation is the most effective of the core policy measures in reducing tobacco consumption, yet it is the least used. There is also a striking inequity in the global adoption of WHO recommended best practice of ensuring that tax should account for more than 75% of pack price. Whereas over one-third of High Income Countries have adopted such an approach, this drops to only 9% of Low and Middle Income Countries, and while cigarettes have become less affordable in both high- and middle-income countries, affordability has been increasing in low-income contexts. Enhancing taxation regimes has been explicitly identified as a key policy priority in 2016 FCTC implementation reports (http://www.who.int/fctc/reporting/en/) submitted by Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Uganda and by a needs assessment conducted in Ghana.
Enhanced tobacco taxation has been recognised as capable of making important contributions to strengthening domestic resource mobilization and generating additional financial resources (SDGs 17.1 and 17.3).
Four LMIC teams are undertaking taxation research projects: ARK Foundation (Bangladesh), HRIDAY (India), Manipal Academy of Higher Education (India) and . A further three teams may conduct research in this area if an extension is granted. The research will provide information for policy makers on the benefits of, and how best to, align national policies on tobacco taxation and pricing with international best practice, and how these can be enforced to reduce tobacco consumption. In most of the countries, this would imply tobacco taxation and pricing policy reforms that can lead to a reduction in tobacco consumption and improved health and well-being at population level.