Tasty Tobacco Should be Taxed
Smoking is a dangerous to smokers and non-smokers . Medical researchers have found that a smoker's life span is at least 10 years shorter . Currently , 11.8% of the population aged 15 or above smokes. According to a study from the School of Public Health and Department of Community Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, tobacco is responsible for 5,600 and 1,300 deaths caused by smoking and secondhand smoke respectively.
Many diseases caused by smoking have brought along heavy burden on medical and health system such as cancers . Tobacco not only costs lives but also money and productivity. Smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death. The World Health Organization estimates that over 5.7 million people are killed by tobacco every year so the Hong Kong government has imposed an 68% tax on tobacco which means that each pack is $50 . This is the minimum level suggested by the WHO but it's still affordable .
How does tax help ?
According to the theory of “price elasticity of demand”, the World Bank estimates that every 10% increase in the price of a pack of cigarette would result in a 4% decrease in tobacco consumption in high income countries and 8% in medium-low income countries. Study shows that 50% increase in tobacco tax in 2009 had lowered the adolescent current smoking rate from 6.9% to 4.8% in early 2010 and 3.4% in late 2010, i.e. an overall 51% drop in adolescent smoking. This research provides strong evidence that the increase in tobacco tax is effective in reducing smoking rate among adolescents.
However, the tobacco industry argues that increases in tobacco tax will lead to an increase in illegal smuggling and will reduce government revenues . They are saying that the number of people who smoke will still remain the same but that more and more people will buy cigarettes from the black market . But this is totally untrue . Tobacco tax not only reduces the number of smokers but also provides government revenue . The tobacco industry is only using this as an argument . The tobacco industry itself is doing illegal smuggling .
There are many ways to tackle this . There should have strict importing rules . The government should freeze the tobacco tax and increase it too . They should monitor tobacco companies to make sure they avoid dealing in the black market .
Tobacco tax is an effective way to control smoking .