The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Tobacco taxes funding health programmes in Latin America

CostaRica Pres signs lawCosta Rican President, Laura Chinchilla (centre), signs the tobacco control law on 22 March 2012. (c) RENATACosta Rica is the most recent Latin American country to dedicate money raised from tobacco taxes to tobacco control.

Taxes in Costa Rica rose 6.5 percent in the tobacco control bill that was signed into law in March 2012 after three years of struggle by tobacco control campaigners. The taxes will be increased regularly as the consumer price index (CPI) rises. 100 percent of the money will go toward tobacco control activities and health promotion.

Costa Rica joins Panama and Ecuador as countries in the region that dedicate tobacco taxes towards tobacco control.

In 2009, Panama (in law No. 69) doubled the tobacco tax rate, and set a minimum price of $1.50 per pack. Of the proceeds, 40 percent will be allocated to the National Cancer Institute, another 40 percent to the Ministry of Health for prevention and treatment of tobacco-related diseases, and the remainder is earmarked for the National Customs Authority (ANA), to tackle the trade in illicit tobacco.

In 2011, Ecuador adopted a specific tax on all brands of cigarettes, which is important as it discourages the tobacco industry from lowering the price of some brands when taxes increase the cost of other brands. Ecuador's tobacco tax is adjusted every six months based on the CPI.

These three countries are leading Latin America's drive to eliminate tobacco use.

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