“Death and taxes are inevitable, but they don't need to be in that order,” said review co-author Dr. Prabhat Jha, director of the Center for Global Health Research at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto in a written release. “A higher tax on tobacco is the single most effective intervention to lower smoking rates and to deter future smokers.”
In addition to the health implications, the analysis estimated tripling the tax on tobacco would generate about $300 billion a year for governments.
The World Health Organization estimates more than 5 million people die from tobacco use each year, of which, more than 600,000 die as a result of the effects of exposure to second-hand smoke. But convincing governments to raise taxes on tobacco to such a degree has already proved to be difficult. According to the WHO, less than 8% of the world's population, or 32 countries, have established tobacco taxes with rates that are higher than 75% of the retail price. In low- and middle-income countries, the tax rate on cigarettes averages between 35% and 40% of the retail price.
In the U.S., a number of state and local governments have tried implementing tax increases on cigarettes with varying degrees of success. While states such as Massachusetts as Minnesota increased the tax on cigarettes by at least $1 a pack in 2013, more than 25 other states, including California, Colorado and Ohio, were unsuccessful in attempts to pass bills that would have raised tobacco taxes.
Experts believe a correlation does exist between higher cigarette prices and lower tobacco use, with estimates indicating raising the price of cigarettes by 10% reduces the rate of consumption by about 3% to 5%, so the higher tax proposal is worth further discussion by concerned governments around the world.
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