Global Task Force Calls for Alcohol, Tobacco Tax Increase
The Task Force on Fiscal Policy for health recommends tax increases to curb the harm of NCDs. They suggest through research to increase taxes high enough to bring up the price by 50% on alcohol and tobacco as well as sugary drinks.
Global NCDs burden
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death in the world, killing 40 million people each year and representing 70% of all annual deaths. 80% of NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, straining health care systems, contributing to poverty and posing a major barrier to development. Tobacco use, obesity and alcohol consumption are three leading risk factors for the development of NCDs. Tax policy is a powerful tool to prevent and reduce the harm caused by these products.
The Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health brings together esteemed fiscal policy, development and health leaders from around the world to address the growing health and economic burden of NCDs – including cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes and their major risk factors – with fiscal policy tools that are currently underutilized by governments.
The task force is co-chaired by Mike Bloomberg and economist Larry Summers, former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and former Director of the National Economic Council.
Evidence: Increasing alcohol, tobacco taxes leads to better health
The Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health released the “Health Taxes to Save Lives” report, calling on all countries to significantly raise their excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages. An analysis conducted for the Task Force estimated that over 50 million premature deaths could be prevented if countries implemented excise tax increases large enough to raise product prices of tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages by 50% over the next 50 years.
The analysis further found the impact of these taxes, projected to yield over US$20 trillion in revenue, would be highest in low- and middle-income countries, where consumption and associated healthcare costs and productivity losses are growing.
This analysis was carried out by the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP).
The estimated increase in life years reflect the tremendous potential of increased taxes to save lives from non-communicable diseases, many of which can be linked back to some combination of tobacco and alcohol use and consumption of sugary beverages,” said Amit Summan, CDDEP Research Associate who worked on the study, as per Medical Xpress.
Increasing taxes of alcohol is recommended by the WHO as one of the three alcohol policy best buys, in curbing the alcohol harm.