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Aussies to jack up tobacco tax in 2014

| May 14, 2013

The price of a pack of cigarettes will rise by about $0.07 next year in Australia, according to a story in the Herald Sun.

The increase will see the government face a potential re-election tussle with tobacco companies and retailers, who are still smarting over plain packaging laws.

Cigarettes were the only sin tax targeted by Treasurer Wayne Swan’s big-cutting budget. Last year’s budget saw an increase on taxes on beer and cut the number of duty-free cigarettes Australians could bring home after travelling overseas.

The duty free cuts last year were set to raise $175 million by 2015.

A pack of 25 cigarettes will be $0.07 more expensive from the first half of 2014, after a change in indexation that sees tobacco excise keep pace with salary rises. Budget papers did not reveal how much this would raise.

$2.87 per pack tax possible in Calif.

| May 14, 2013

California lawmakers chose not to make smokers pay more for health insurance,  but they may be more willing to make smokers pay more for cigarettes.

A new bill proposing to raise the tax on tobacco by $2 per pack of cigarettes  cleared its first two committee votes last week in predictably partisan votes. SB 768, by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), would raise  the price of cigarettes to more than $8 a pack and generate about $1.4 billion a  year. De León proposes the money be used to offset costs of medical care for  tobacco-related diseases, anti-tobacco education and smoking-cessation  programs.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee approved the bill in a 5-2 vote  and the Senate Committee on Health approved it 6-2. All “yes” votes were  Democrats. All “no” votes were Republican.

“Taxpayers pay $3.1 billion a year to subsidize this industry,” de León told  the health committee, citing an estimate for California’s annual medical costs  for tobacco-related diseases and health problems.

“On a fiscal level, the price is much too high, and taxpayers have been  footing the bill for much too long,” de León said.

California, which hasn’t increased taxes on tobacco since 1998, now charges  $0.87 cents on each pack of cigarettes and ranks 33rd in the country in tobacco  taxation. De Leon’s bill would move the state into fourth place.

Revenue drop fires VAT rethink

| May 14, 2013

In an unusual move that has attracted some criticism, India’s Uttar Pradesh state government has slashed the VAT on cigarettes and cigars from 50 percent to 25 percent.

According to a report in the latest issue of the BBM Bommidala Group newsletter, the decision to reduce VAT was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet, which is hoping to halt the loss in revenue that followed an increase in VAT last year.

The level of VAT levied on cigarettes and cigars was increased in 2012 from 12.5 percent to 50 percent.

Smoke signals towards higher prices in Pacific Islands

| May 1, 2013

Expext a hike in the price of cigarettes if local authorities support moves to increase taxation on cigarettes in the Pacific Islands, where a high percentage of deaths are related to diseases caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

The proposed increase in tax, which is supported by the World Health Organization, is aimed at discouraging smoking. The addisional funds would be used to bolster the public health systems, according to a story in the Fiji Times.

One in every three adults in Fiji is at risk of premature death from heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases caused by NCDs and WHO director for the prevention of NCD Dr. Douglas Bettcher said increasing taxation on cigarettes in Pacific Islands could reduce deaths from NCDs.

“This is really important for the Pacific because there is a crisis in NCDs — heart diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases, which are caused by smoking, tobacco use, obesity, lack of physical activity and harmful use of alcohol,” Bettcher said. “NCDs are the biggest killers in the world today, they’ve taken over from communicable diseases.

“Of the 63 percent of all deaths in the world due to NCDs, over 80 percent of those deaths are in developing countries like the Pacific Islands and of these, 36 million deaths from NCDs every year, about 14 million of those are premature, meaning people dying under the age of 70.”

Bettcher said when viewed in the context of global trends, the statistics in the Pacific were alarming.

“The world average is 20 percent and many high-income countries are achieving 10 percent. In the Pacific, the crisis has reached epidemic proportions.

“In countries like the Marshall Islands, the risk is 60 percent and in Fiji, the rate is 30 percent. This means that three in every 10 adults have a very high risk of prematurely dying from a NCD.”

Hungary moves from open market to monopoly to zeropoly

| April 15, 2013

Smokers in some Hungarian villages will not have local access to cigarettes after a new law allowing only state-licensed tobacconists to sell cigarettes comes into effect in May, according to an MTI-EcoNews story quoting the opposition Socialist lawmaker, Csaba Toth.

As was reported here on April 3, the country’s parliament adopted legislation in September last year for the establishment of a state monopoly of the retail sale of tobacco products on July 1, 2013.

The National Tobacco Trade Non-profit, which is overseeing the establishment of the monopoly, said that 15,633 applications for the retail sale of tobacco had been submitted by the February 22 deadline stipulated in the initial tender.

No applications were submitted in the case of 1,417 villages, however; so new tenders have been invited.

But since the winners of the new round of tenders would be announced only on April 23, said Toth, there would not be enough time for the shops to open on May 1, the deadline after which only licensed tobacconists may sell cigarettes.

This would encourage black market trading and result in a drop in excise tax revenues, he added.

Belarus braces for tax hike

| November 29, 2012

The Belarusian government will increase tobacco excise tax rates by between 50 percent and 100 percent, starting Jan.1, reports Oreanda-News.

The excise tax rate on filtered cigarettes will increase by 55.6 percent to 110 percent, depending on the price group. The excise tax rates on smoking and pipe tobacco, and cigars will increase by 66.7 percent, while the rate on cigarillos will rise by 73.8 percent.