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What does the press say about the tobacco tax?

Starting the new year, the press of Argentina and Uruguay talk about new taxes, including the tobacco tax and it consequences

By Jineth Araujo
May 11, 2018

The start of the new year brings news about increases of prices, minimum wages and other economic issues of interest. Many measures that produce changes in taxes, such as tobacco tax, begin to apply from January, so this news are usually accompanied by a message of disapproval to an increase in prices. In the case of tobacco, these increases should be received as good news since this means that the health protection mechanism for which they were designed, actually begins to operate. Below is explained the press reaction to tobacco taxes in Uruguay and Argentina from some of their most important newspapers.

The news about the fourth tobacco tax increase during President Vázquez's term was recently published in the Uruguayan newspaper El Observador. Among its lines, they cite the President's position: "within the set of measures adopted to combat smoking, it has been verified that the increase in taxation is an effective instrument in achieving the aforementioned purposes" (El Observador, 2017)

In 2017, Urugay continued to set an example in anti-smoking policies. The big fight they fought against the tobacco industry in high-profile litigation made their leadership globally consolidated.

On the other hand, in Argentina, the Argentine Society of Cardiology (SAC) and the Argentine Cardiological Foundation (FCA) reject the initiative to reduce the tobacco tax. According to Clarín newspaper, the tax increase measure already proved to be effective. In fact, according to a study by the FIC Argentina, 40% of smokers reported changes in their consumption pattern after the price increase in 2016. In the news, it is emphasized how this decision goes against the recommendations of the WHO in the framework convention tobacco control, which the country has not yet ratified.

Regardless of the divergences in policy decisions in these two countries, it is important to highlight the way in which the press has spread the news. In both cases, they ratified that the tax measure is seen by multilateral organizations and by executive figures as the most efficient way to reduce consumption and, in turn, smoking.

We hope that the evidence that is already observed in these and other countries in the region about the effectiveness of this measure will persuade other public policy makers and allows progress towards the objectives of the reduction of non transmissible diseases included in the 2030 agenda.