Can Tobacco Excise Taxes Be a Boon for NCD Financing?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Governments need to put more effort in implementing one of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s proven measures to reduce demand and deaths from tobacco use — levying high taxes on tobacco products.

Only 33 countries have so far raised taxes on a pack of cigarettes to the suggested more than 75 percent of retail price, according to a new WHO report launched this week.

This means only 10 percent of the world’s population is benefiting from this anti-tobacco strategy, which aims to lower the number of individuals at risk of tobacco-related diseases, such as lung cancer and heart ailments.

But it also dashes hopes for greater supplemental financing for tobacco control, and more broadly, noncommunicable diseases, whose burden is increasing worldwide but whose share of global development assistance for health is the smallest.

NCD finance

From receiving a meager $160 million in 2000, health assistance tackling NCDs grew 282 percent to $611 million in 2014, according to preliminary estimates by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in its latest report on global health financing.

But as Devex reported recently, that’s still just a fraction of global health financing, accounting for 1.7 percent of the $35.9 billion spent last year.

This poses challenges for those working to address the increasing burden of NCDs, which in many sub-Saharan countries contribute more than 30 percent to total deaths, as per analysis of WHO’s country-level data.

Source: Devex (link opens in a new window)

Health Care