18 Aug 2008
Increasing the price of tobacco products is widely recognised as the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption. Tax increases affect smoking behaviour in entire populations, making this a highly cost-effective measure.
Higher tobacco prices result in current smokers consuming less, increasing cessation among current smokers, and make it harder for younger people to start since youth have less money to spend.
As well as reducing tobacco consumption, increasing tobacco excise taxes increases revenue. This is a high motivator for governments to increase tax.
In fact, world leaders in 2015 endorsed raising tobacco taxes as a key strategy to reduce tobacco consumption and the global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Taxing tobacco can also help defer the costs of health care and finance sustainable development, the leaders added in the Addis Ababa Action Plan.
Some countries, such as Thailand and the Philippines, also invest a portion of the revenue raised from tobacco taxes in tobacco control measures and other public health measures.
The work of the FCTC COP
The World Health Organization recommends that excise taxes should account for at least 70 percent of the retail prices of tobacco products.
Under Article 6 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Parties agree to adopt or maintain measures that may include tax and price policies, and restricting taxes on duty-free sales of tobacco products.
In 2014, the world’s governments agreed for the first time on guidelines that describe what makes (and what doesn’t make) good tobacco tax policy. Adopted at the sixth session of the Parties to the FCTC, Article 6 guidelines are a good tool for advocacy and action around increasing tax on tobacco products.
Despite these achievements, many governments are slow to implement the FCTC’s measures on Article 6. Reasons for this include incomplete understanding of tobacco tax policy and unrelenting pressure from the tobacco industry.
FCA support for Article 6
FCA representatives have attended all sessions of the FCTC COP, and in doing so have contributed substantially to the development of Article 6 and its guidelines. See our policy papers on Article 6.
In 2014, FCA published a guide on doing advocacy using the Art 6 guidelines. Download FCTC guidelines on tobacco tax: what advocates should know.
For the FCTC’s COP5 in 2014 FCA collected numerous resources on tobacco taxation, including how to respond to industry interference in tobacco tax policy-making.
Support FCA’s work
FCA works hard to ensure that Parties to the FCTC COP implement the Convention’s tobacco control measures. We also advocate for greater recognition of the role that tobacco control can play in improving global health and development. However, we are a non-profit and rely on the generous support of individuals and organisations.
You can help support our work by donating online.