24 Jun 2013
Getting there: A step-by-step guide to asking for a tax or price target
3. Gather your evidence and arguments in an information package
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the issues and considered some potential targets to propose, you will need to convince the government officials, and/or legislators, to consider and support your proposals.
First, summarize on paper the targets or types of targets you propose, and why you think they are desirable and feasible. You may want to provide a range of options, particularly if you will be talking to government officials you do not yet know well.
Second, gather or prepare all of the evidence to respond to the typical questions that finance ministries ask, for example:
- What is this Framework Convention on Tobacco Control you refer to? Why should we in Finance be paying any attention to some WHO document?
- Do you know that revenue gains won’t be eroded by increased smuggling?
- How do you know that people will smoke less if taxes are increased?
- What do public health advocates know about tobacco taxes, anyway?
You should compile a summary of this evidence in a basic information package that you can leave with legislators and officials. The package should contain a mix of international evidence and, if you have it, local data and evidence. Much of the international evidence and information can be found in the appendices of this guide, or at:
- Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control website;
- Tobacco Free Kids.org — Taxation and Price;
- South East Asia Initiative on Tobacco Tax.
An information package will also be a helpful tool for responding to the media, and in helping you stay on-point with your messages, should you later choose to make your campaign for tax targets public.
Specific documentation that you should have ready for a meeting includes:
- Copies of the FCTC — Available in all six official UN languages
- Copies of the set of guiding principles and recommendations on the implementation of Article 6
- The 1999 World Bank report, Curbing the Epidemic.3 — Available in 11 languages
- The WHO Technical Manual on Tobacco Tax Administration4
- A summary fact sheet of the key evidence on price, affordability, consumption and revenue. (You can use the information found in Appendix 1)
- Information on price and tax levels in your country and neighbouring/similar countries, if available.
- Information on national prevalence and consumption trends, if available.
- Information on other countries that may already have tax targets, and a short sheet discussing possible targets, or the targets you want to propose for consideration.
3 World Bank. Curbing the epidemic. Governments and the economics of tobacco control. Washington, DC : World Bank, 1999. This report was published some time ago, but it is not outdated. You can explain that it provided much of the evidence for the FCTC. Plus, it remains the single most comprehensive examination of the economics of tobacco use. Available on-line.
4 World Health Organization. WHO Technical Manual on Tobacco Tax Administration. Geneva: WHO, 2010. Available on-line.