Tobacco tax reform surged ahead in South-East Asia in 2012
Reform of tobacco taxation made great leaps in various South-East Asian nations in 2012, according to the annual report of the South-East Initiative on Tobacco Tax (SITT).
Milestones included passing the Sin Tax Reform Law in the Philippines; influencing tobacco tax policy in Indonesia using research-based evidence, and passing and implementing the pictorial health warning regulation in Indonesia.
The report documents a number of lessons learned, including the importance of (from the Philippines):
- Highlighting the impact of tobacco tax on public health so as to eradicate the notion that taxes only have fiscal objectives;
- Bringing together allies from the government (i.e. Department of Health and the Department of Finance) to advocate for and defend measures;
- Briefing legislators about the impact of tobacco taxation in saving the lives of smokers and those exposed to second- and third-hand smoke.
In Indonesia the project focused on reforming tobacco tax policy through research. Lessons learned there included:
- Local evidence and researchers who understand the socio-political environment are needed for convincing policymakers;
- Research institutions / university think-tanks are perceived as academics and offer credibility in presenting research evidence;
- The media play an important role in building public awareness and framing public opinion on the benefits of tax reforms for health and social welfare.