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Recently, the National Board of Revenue in Bangladesh has filed law suits against four chewing tobacco companies for tax evasion.

 

Leading tobacco control experts gathered in Bogotá, Colombia, to discuss tobacco taxation at an event organised by Union grantee, the Anáas Foundation, in partnership with Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano.

The event comes just ahead of important debates by Congress on tobacco taxes in the country.

Increasing tobacco taxes to ensure that tobacco products become increasingly unaffordable is a core policy to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In 2018, the taxes on tobacco products have increased in Colombia for the second consecutive year. The 200% tax increase accumulated over the past two years has contributed to the real price of cigarettes in Colombia increasing by 41 percent between December 2016 and October 2018.

To see this trend continue, experts want to see a further increase in tobacco tax for 2019 but in the initial proposal for a Public Finance Reform, being debated by Congress, a new rise was not mentioned.

Dr. Prabhat Jha, leading epidemiologist and health economist who spoke at the recent event said: “Global experience shows that tax increases are the most successful policy. In Colombia, for instance, increasing prices by 100 percent would save 300 thousand lives, because price increases triggered by tax hikes slow down purchases. The higher costs to consumers encourages smokers to quit and reduce treatment costs to the health care system.”

The Regional Director of The Union Latin America, Dr. Gustavo Sóñora said: “Raising tobacco taxes is a win-win-win policy because improve the public health, bring benefits to the public health and the public finances, decrease the health costs and increase the tax revenues”.

Blanca Llorente, Senior researcher at Anaas, also speaking at the event said: “The Colombian government should multiply by three the current excise tax. Tax revenues will continue their upward trend and may get closer to US$470 million per year. But most importantly, we would ensure that the current prevalence continues to drop and eventually reach 5 percent, reducing the financial burden to the health care system currently estimated at 0.6% of GDP.”

The participation of Dr. Prabhat Jha and Dr. Guillermo Paraje, two leading experts in the field, was possible thanks to the collaboration of the Global Tobacco Economics Consortium (GTEC) and the American Cancer Society.

The event was part of a Union grant for advancing and consolidating tax policy in Colombia, led by Blanca Llorente (Anáas Foundation) and Norman Maldonado (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano), with funding from the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use (BI). The funding has also supported the development of the “Tax Monitoring Tool (IMPIT)”. This tool allows to keep a careful record of the results of tobacco tax policy, and is an example of the importance of building performance indicators to inform decision makers on the overall context of taxes.

 

In India, both research and action are happening in a drive to understand and control tobacco use.

A study presented during a tobacco control session at the 49th Union World Conference on Lung Health,

 

Finance leaders today came together with world leaders from government and health for the first time to pledge commitment to tobacco-free finance policies across lending, insurance and investment. The Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge – of which The Union is a founding signatory – was launched at a side event of the UN General Assembly, and included more than 120 founding signatories and supporters.

 

Tobacco control enforcement teams in Shenzhen, China, have launched a round of targeted inspections of tobacco vendors near schools to ensure the law prohibiting tobacco sales to children is being upheld. The first round of inspections was carried out covertly by tobacco control enforcement officers accompanied by members of the media between 25 June and 20 July 2018.

 

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced The Union as one of the organisations selected to lead a new US$ 20 million project to crack down on tobacco industry influence particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

 

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