The first edition of the Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard, released in December of 2020, grades countries' cigarette tax policies on a five-point scale, using the four key components of absolute price, changes in affordability, tax share of price and tax structure.
The average score in the ASEAN countries is only 1.75 points out of 5. There is significant opportunity for improvement across the region. The component scores from in the Scorecard show that countries are not performing well in any of the four components. The region is especially failing to reduce the affordability of cigarettes over time- the ASEAN average is only 0.56 points out of 5. Improved cigarette taxation will save many lives from tobacco-induced diseases, save substantial health care costs, and increase productivity. Increased tobacco taxes will also raise additional revenues, which can be allocated to health and development, perhaps especially during and after the difficult COVID-19 crisis.
Dr. Frank Chaloupka, the lead author of the Scorecard, will present the findings for ASEAN countries. Ms. Sophapan Ratanachena-McWhortor from SEATCA will introduce the new 2021 SEATCA Tobacco Tax Index. Ms. Rowena S. Sta. Clara from the Department of Finance in the Philippines will share the tobacco tax lessons learned in the Philippines. Dr. Prakit Vathesatogkit from ASH Thailand will highlight the challenges faced in Thailand. The panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Jeffrey Drope from Tobacconomics.
SEATCA is a multi-sectoral alliance established to support ASEAN countries in developing and putting in place effective tobacco control policies. It responds to grave need to fast track tobacco control policies in Southeast Asia. The alliance works to identify tobacco control priorities in the region and to coordinate efforts on these priorities. SEATCA promotes knowledge-sharing among countries for effective, evidence-based tobacco control measures and regional cooperation among its advocacy partners. SEATCA is acknowledged by governments and academic institutions for its advancement of tobacco control movements in Southeast Asia. In 2004 the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) presented the World No Tobacco Day Award to SEATCA. WHO-WPRO has since engaged SEATCA to provide technical assistance directly to government officials across the region.
Based in the Health Policy Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Tobacconomics team conducts economic research to shape global tobacco control policies, and we also partner with economic policy think tanks in low- and middle-income countries to build the local evidence base for more effective tobacco tax systems. UIC is a partner of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.