October 13, 2017
From the article:
For most experts in public health, there is little doubt that higher excise taxes on tobacco would be a win-win, raising costs as a disincentive to smokers while generating additional income from those who continue to smoke.
Yet governments and international institutions have been ambivalent. They have often listened to advice — or succumbed to pressure — from corporations including the tobacco industry which has steered them away from more aggressive measures. As William Savedoff from the Centre for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington, argues, the International Monetary Fund has stalled and played down how best to use taxes to improve public health.
Now the World Bank goes further, suggesting policymakers “go big, go fast”, tax cigarettes based on quantity not price, and use “soft earmarks” that channel revenues to public health.
Ultimately governments decide on taxation. But international institutions presenting the evidence more vocally — offering technical advice and cajoling national policymakers as part of regular budget scrutiny — can only be positive.