The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Gates promotes tobacco taxes in report to G20

Raising tobacco prices is the most effective way to curb consumption. FCA reminded delegates at September's NCD Summit that they are losing billions of potential tobacco tax dollars. © FCA.

Another gathering of Presidents and Prime Ministers has heard about the benefits of tobacco taxes.

On Thursday the report of US businessmen and philanthropist Bill Gates to leaders of the so-called Group of Twenty (G20) countries – leading global economies – was released. It calls on them to address the current economic crisis and meet their commitments to tackle global development challenges.

Gates also showcases the potential of tobacco taxes to generate additional revenue and cut future health costs.

“Tobacco taxes are especially attractive because they encourage smokers to quit and discourage people from starting to smoke, as well as generate significant revenues. It’s a win-win for global health,” says the report.

Gates encourages G20 leaders to increase tobacco taxes, highlighting WHO’s benchmark for tobacco excise taxes (at least 70 per cent of the pack price), adding: “Although some countries have total tobacco taxes in excess of 70 per cent, the average excise tax in G20 and European Union countries is approximately 55 per cent.”

In its final communique issued Friday, the G20 said it had discussed the Gates' options, but made no commitments. "We also agree that, over time, new sources of funding need to be found to address development needs and climate change," it added.

Serious discussions of global tobacco control, including the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) are becoming more frequent at international forums.

In September, the United Nations NCD Summit shone the spotlight on “accelerated implementation” of the FCTC and on tobacco taxes. Since then, these topics have been raised at the World Conference on Social Determinants on Health, the Commonwealth heads of state gathering and now the G20 meeting.

The full Gates report is available online in: English, French. 

Executive summary (Deutsch, English, español, français, português).

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