Tobacco Taxation

Image credit: © IDRC / Sandy Campbell, Shutterstock

Tobacco use causes more than 8 million deaths globally each year, with around 80% of the world’s smokers living in low- and middle-income countries. The costs of tobacco are high in terms of the negative impacts on public health and the economy. Increasing taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce tobacco consumption and improve health outcomes, while also raising government revenues. However, as a policy tool, tobacco tax is widely underutilised. This is partly due to lobbying by the industry, which often makes exaggerated and false claims about the potential impacts of increasing taxes. Therefore, rigorous independent research and evidence is needed to inform policymakers in developing countries.


February 2020
By Laura Rossouw

Cigarette sales in most African countries are going up all the time. But smoking rates are much lower than in high-income countries. Because of these comparatively lower smoking prevalence rates – combined with the urgent need to address infectious diseases – tobacco control policies have largely not been prioritised. Nigeria is a case in point. Preventing smoking rates…

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News and events:

June 2020
Our new resource page on tobacco taxation

May 31st was World No Tobacco Day. Every year, tobacco use causes more than 8 million deaths globally, and 80% of the world’s smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. The costs of tobacco are high in terms of the negative impacts on public health and the economy. Increasing taxes on tobacco is the most…

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Research Projects:

Current Project
Tobacco tax reform in West Africa
Project Researchers: Prof Corné van Walbeek, REEP, Dr Hana Ross, REEP, Prof Abdoulaye Diagne, CRES, Dr Pape Yona Mané, CRES & Kisten van der Zee, REEP

Explore our new page on tobacco taxation Purpose Africa is vulnerable to the tobacco industry. It has a large and young population, rapid economic growth, a desire to attract foreign investment, and weak tobacco control policies. Although smoking prevalence in many African countries is modest, preventing its rise, especially amongst youth, remains a huge challenge….

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Current Project
The fiscal and public health impact of a change in tobacco excise taxes in Ghana
Project Researchers: Ama Fenny, University of Ghana, Felix Asante, Aba Crentsil & Christian Osei

This study will provide evidence-based analysis of tobacco taxation in Ghana. The main research theme addressed will be to assess best practices in tobacco taxation centering on the impact of tobacco tax increases on the retail price of tobacco products, tobacco consumption and government tax revenue. We hypothesize that this will provide the evidence needed…

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May 2020
De-Linking Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade in Africa
By Max Gallien

Smoking tobacco has been much less common traditionally in Africa than in Europe or North America. But this is changing. As Africa has become a growth market for the tobacco industry, adverse health effects are increasingly visible. While increasing tobacco taxation has been shown as the most effective policy tool in curbing tobacco consumption, many…

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July 2019
The Economics of Tobacco Control in Nigeria: Modelling the Fiscal and Health Effects of a Tobacco Excise Tax Change
By Precious C. Akanonu, Joseph Ishaku & Chukwuka Onyekwena

This paper examines the potential for changes in the tobacco tax to contribute to raising government revenues, reducing tobacco use, and improving public health in Nigeria. Specifically, it estimates the impact of a change in the excise tax structure and level on cigarette consumption, government revenue, smoking prevalence, net-of-tax (NOT) revenue, and the excise tax…

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November 2017
How Can Governments of Low-Income Countries Collect More Tax Revenue?
By Mick Moore & Wilson Prichard

It is widely believed that the governments of many low-income countries, and especially the relatively poor performers, should be aiming to increase the proportion of GDP they raise in tax revenue. There are risks in emphasising increasing revenue at the expense of other objectives. Governments also need to be concerned with questions of equity, efficiency,…

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Partner publications:

Undermining government tax policies: Common legal strategies employed by the tobacco industry in response to tobacco tax increases
by H.Ross, J.Tesche, and N.Vellios (December, 2017)
This paper identifies seven strategies the tobacco industry employs to negate or minimise the full effects of tobacco tax increases.
See resource
Public finances and tobacco taxation with product variety: Theory and application to Senegal and Nigeria
by Théophile T. Azomahou ,Racky Baldé, Abdoulaye Diagne, Pape Yona Mané, Ibrahima Sory Kaba (February, 2019)
This study endeavors to answer two questions: which category of excise taxes is more appropriate for Senegal and Nigeria and which consequences an increase of the tobacco taxes would have on the price, the demand and the tax revenues in each one of the two countries?
See resource

West Africa Tobacco Taxation Factsheets

Our partners on this issue

Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale logo
REEP logo
Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa logo
The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana logo
IDRC logo
Cancer Research UK logo