Bath researchers join bid for tax increase on tobacco in Europe

Researchers from the University of Bath have joined a call for a radical increase in the taxation of all tobacco products as the most effective way to make them inaccessible to European consumers.

David Clifford and Silvy Peeters from the University's Tobacco Control Research Group joined an international group of tobacco control experts and health economists who met in Brussels recently to make the recommendations to officials from the European Council and European Commission.

The recommendations included a significant increase in the taxation of all tobacco products to both improve public health and generate additional tax revenues.

David Clifford said: "It is well known that increasing the tax on tobacco products is important for reducing tobacco consumption and therefore improving public health.

"Further increases, particularly large increases, could also limit the tobacco companies’ ability to engage in price-based marketing such as multi-buy offers which target young people and those on low incomes."

The recommendations were based on the findings of a three-year research project: 'Pricing Policies and Control of Tobacco in Europe (PPACTE)', funded by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme, and with research undertaken by research groups across seven different countries, including the Tobacco Control Research Group in Bath, led by Professor Anna Gilmore.

The group also recommend that there be full alignment of tax rates, so that fine-cut tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes (and also pipe tobacco) is taxed at the same rate as manufactured cigarettes.

David said: "Aligning the tax rates for all tobacco products would improve the effectiveness of tax increases; the current tax system provides smokers with an incentive to switch to roll-your-own tobacco rather than quit smoking, which undermines the public health benefit of tobacco tax increases."

Other recommendations included banning the sale of cigarettes below cost and low-price-based marketing, application of an ad valorem tax of minimum 80 per cent and ideally 83 per cent, maintenance of the embargo on the smokeless tobacco snus and the launch of an investigation by the European Commission of illegal sales of snus.

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