Anti-Tobacco Policies Need Reform

Anti-Tobacco Policies Need ReformAnti-Tobacco Policies Need Reform

The World No Tobacco Day 2015 with the slogan “stop illicit trade of tobacco products” calls on nations to work together to end tobacco smuggling along the lines of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) key tobacco control policies: increasing import tax and excise on tobacco products, said Hassan Hashemi, minister of health and medical education.

“After analyzing studies by international researchers last year, the ministry proposed a bill wherein the state treasury would have seen a $3.3 billion (110 trillion rials) increase in revenue in five years if taxes on tobacco were to be hiked, but it was rejected by lawmakers,” Hashemi said at the recent no-tobacco day function, Mehr News Agency reported.

The Health Ministry was not “eying the proceeds,” but increasing taxes could help boost revenue as well as curtail tobacco consumption. He blamed the Majlis and the government, for their “non-cooperation.”

Globally, excise and other forms of tax on cigarettes account for a little over half of the average price of cigarettes, from 65.5% in high-income countries to 40.8% in low-income countries. Similarly, the average price is nearly $5 per pack in high-income to approximately $2 in low-income countries.

 Progressive Laws

Iran has “up-to-date and comprehensive tobacco-control laws,” but need further reforms. “For instance, tobacco consumption must be prohibited indoors and “we are short of designated smoking areas.”

Deputy Health Minister Dr. Ali Akbar Sayyari said people spend $3 billion (100 trillion rials) annually “to guarantee their premature death.” An average of 10% of the income of every household, including low-income classes, is spent on tobacco products.”

A study on revealed that tax increases beyond a doubt reduce tobacco use especially among youth. In fact, data from states that increased tobacco tax show effective reduction of tobacco use among the youth.

The tobacco industry and its lobby strongly oppose tobacco tax increase because they know this will reduce the number of “replacement smokers” that they need to sustain their business.  

Pointing out that treatment for respiratory diseases costs more than $30,238 (one billion rials) on an average, Hashemi said, “If we truly believe in the colossal damage tobacco inflicts on social health, we must employ proper control strategies.”