Global Tobacco Control Updates
Tobacco Unfiltered Blog
Some of the lowest cigarette prices in Latin America will soon be increasing thanks to a landmark fiscal reform package passed early this morning in Colombia. As part of the reform package, the Colombian legislature has included a new tax on tobacco products that will triple prices on tobacco products.
For years, Colombia has sold some of the cheapest cigarettes in Latin America – with devastating effects. More than 26,000 Colombians die each year from tobacco-related diseases.
Increased tobacco prices are the most direct and effective way to reduce smoking, and higher taxes are particularly effective in reducing tobacco use among vulnerable populations like youth and low-income smokers.
Even as countries around the world are increasingly taking strong action to curb tobacco use and winning significant legal battles against the tobacco industry, tobacco companies continue to set their sights on “growth markets” to target a new generation of smokers. Increasingly, the burden of tobacco use is greatest in low- and middle-income countries like Colombia that have been targeted by the tobacco industry.
Yet proven measures to reduce tobacco use, like Colombia’s new tax increase, are nations’ greatest tool in addressing the devastating burden of tobacco. Smoke-free public spaces, restrictions on tobacco marketing and advertising and warning labels on tobacco products are all measures proven to reduce tobacco use along with increased tobacco taxes.
Colombia has taken a historic step in its battle to improve citizens’ health. Once implemented, the new tobacco tax – set to increase in steps over the coming years - will have a lasting impact on the health of all Colombians and provide a key example of how even small countries can combat the world’s leading cause of preventable death.