25 Jun 2013

Sample letter requesting a meeting with finance officials

I am writing on behalf of The Public Good, a non-profit organization, well-established with over xx members, working for cost-effective governance in public health, to request a meeting with you to discuss tobacco taxation.

Tobacco use is of particular concern to our organization. We note that the single most effective measure in reducing tobacco use is affordability. This is a factor that can be influenced through taxation policy.

As you may know, the Republic of Fantastica is a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an internationally binding treaty that obliges us to keep public health objectives in mind when we set tobacco tax rates.

The Republic of Fantastica currently has low tobacco taxes, amounting to only 20% of the retail price of cigarettes (which account for 99% of all tobacco sales). Prices are much lower than in all neighbouring countries, and there has been no increase in the tobacco tax in 12 years. Youth smoking has been rising for the last 10 years, while annual revenue from tobacco taxes has been declining in real (inflation-adjusted) per capita terms.

We have examined evidence from several neighbouring countries showing that large increases in tobacco taxes could be expected to slow, and perhaps reverse, the increase in youth smoking, while also significantly increasing the government’s tax revenue.

Tripling tobacco taxes would leave cigarette prices substantially lower than in neighbouring Publichealthland, but it would still have a big impact on prevalence and should allow the government to at least double tobacco tax revenue.

We would like to discuss with you possible models for a long-term tobacco tax target with regular increases, in line with Fantastica’s obligations under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. We see this as a rare opportunity to improve public health while also locking in revenue gains for the government.

I look forward to your earliest response, etc. etc.

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