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.

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November 2021
by Erika Siu & Jeffrey Drope

The ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (or COP 9) wrapped up on November 13. The discussions saw 161 countries, UN agencies, other intergovernmental organisations and civil society groups consider strategies to implement tobacco control measures more effectively, including taxation, and to stop…

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News and events:

May 2022
tobacco tax image
New interactive site on taxing tobacco in West Africa

For more than 30 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) has designated May 31 as World No Tobacco Day, which aims to inform the public of the danger of using tobacco, the leading preventable cause of death in the world.On this day, we’re pleased to share with you our new website Taxing Tobacco in West…

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Research Projects:

Past 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

See the project’s factsheets on tobacco taxation in West Africa Read the blog summarising key research findings so far. 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…

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Past 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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No smoking gun: tobacco taxation and smuggling in Sierra Leone
by Giovanni Occhiali & Max Gallien

Objective To evaluate the common industry claim that higher tobacco taxation leads to higher levels of smuggling, particularly in a limited state capacity setting. Design This paper evaluates the effects of a tobacco tax increase in Sierra Leone on smuggling by using gap analyses. Its models are based on multiple rounds of the Demographic and…

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More on the Positive Fiscal and Health Effects of Increasing Tobacco Taxes in Nigeria
by Corné van Walbeek, Adedeji Adeniran & Iraoya Augustine

Nigeria is faced with substantial economic and health burdens caused by tobacco smoking. The economic burden of smoking accounts for approximately 1.3 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP. In terms of its health impact, 4.9 per cent of all deaths in 2019 were attributed to smoking related diseases. The thousands of Nigerians that die annually from…

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November 2020
Fiscal and Public Health Impact of a Change in Tobacco Excise Taxes in Ghana
by Ama Pokuaa Fenny, Aba Obrumah Crentsil, Christian Kwaku Osei & Felix Ankomah Asante

Cigarettes have generally become less affordable over time in developed economies, with increased taxes and low income growth, but more affordable in developing countries, where there have been minimal changes in taxes (Chaloupka et al. 2019). Studies by the WHO suggest that 80% of the world’s smokers live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and…

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Partner publications:

Measuring the effects of the new ECOWAS and WAEMU tobacco excise tax directives
by Jean Tesche and Corne Van Walbeek (September, 2020)
In December 2017, the 15-member ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and the 8-member WAEMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union, a subset of ECOWAS) passed new Tobacco Tax Directives. Both Directives increased the minimum ad valorem excise tax rate to 50%. In addition the ECOWAS Directive introduced a minimum specific tax (US$ 0.02/stick), but the WAEMU Directive did not. This paper examines the likely effects of these new Directives on cigarette prices, sales volumes and revenues.
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
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