24 Jun 2013
Getting there: A step-by-step guide to asking for a tax or price target
10. Monitor and pursue progress toward commitments
Achieving a commitment by your government to a target that you support is an important victory. But the ultimate goal is to meet that target. Like every other victory in tobacco control, this will require monitoring and consistent follow up.
Make sure you know what data needs to be collected and available in order to monitor progress. Ensure that the government has the appropriate mechanisms in place to collect this data. For example:
- Youth prevalence target: Is there a standardized youth prevalence survey in place that measures youth prevalence at baseline (date of announcement of the target), and that will be conducted at regular enough intervals during the target period to monitor changes?
- Affordability target tied to wages: Is there standardized collection and reporting of wage data that is available to the government department responsible for monitoring progress toward targets? If not, you probably should promote an affordability target tied to per capita GDP, which virtually all countries track.
- Per capita consumption target: Is there an accurate, reliable reporting system of tobacco sales (usually through reporting on manufacturing, less exports, plus imports, including estimates of illegal manufacturing and imports if possible), and a way to measure population growth in corresponding years?
Ask how and when the data will be available. There is no point in having targets if the data needed to hold the government accountable on progress is not available to the public. Ideally, the government should issue annual reports on progress, along with providing access to the data used to prepare the reports. Here are a couple of examples of annual reporting:
- Scotland. A brief web report on progress toward adult smoking targets.
- New Zealand. The Ministry of Health annual report for 2011. See page 13 for information on achievement of targets to provide smoking cessation advice to hospitalized patients.
Continue to stay in touch with the contacts you have made within finance ministries to offer support and ask questions.
When the government reports its progress (or lack thereof) towards the targets each year, it’s a good idea to alert the media and remind them of the central role of tobacco taxation in tobacco control and FCTC implementation. This can be quite short, ideally emphasizing the health and revenue impact of any tax/price increase.6
6 See for example this 2010 press release from Cancer Council Victoria.