Virtual Technical Training on Tobacco Control: Accelerating the Implementation of the MPOWER Package During COVID-19 in the Americas - Tobacco Taxes and the Economics of Tobacco Control – 2021

Introduction to the course

The comprehensive implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in the Region of the Americas, and in the world, remains a daunting task that has become even more urgent with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Region of the Americas has been greatly affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Tobacco control measures are of the greatest relevance because smoking is a risk factor for the four main non- communicable diseases (NCDs), which lie at the base of the severity of the pandemic; it is also well- known that smokers are more likely to develop severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19.

Within this context, it is important to reduce the significant economic burden such as healthcare costs and productivity losses associated with tobacco use. This burden is significantly higher than the revenue from tobacco taxes and tends to foster poverty thus threatening the sustainable development of the Region.

Tobacco use continues to kill more than 1 million people in the Region of the Americas every year. Despite all the advances in the Region since the FCTC entered into effect in 2005, 40% of the Member States still do not apply key measures contained within the Convention. These include banning smoking in all public and closed work places and public transport, as well as the mandatory inclusion of large, graphic health warnings on all tobacco products. Furthermore, effective measures to protect young people from being exposed to misleading information, such as prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, have only been implemented by 22% of Member States. Finally, despite being the most cost-effective measure to reduce tobacco use, only four countries have set tobacco taxes at the minimum level recommended by WHO.

Tobacco taxes represent a triple win for governments by improving health, reducing associated healthcare costs, and increasing tax revenue. The additional revenue could be used to respond to the pandemic or help finance economic recovery. In this sense, it is crucial to enhance policy coherence between fiscal and public health sectors regarding the use of excise taxes on tobacco products.

Strengthening tobacco control requires a multi-sectoral effort because many of the most cost-effective policies go beyond the health sector. The common language across sectors is economic evidence. In addition, the economic evidence serves to guide public policy and counter the arguments and interference of the tobacco industry and its affiliates.

Goal

Consolidate and integrate knowledge on tobacco taxes and the economics of tobacco control, through a critical analysis of a case study that addresses the problem of tobacco use in real contexts, using fiscal strategies as a tool to reduce tobacco consumption.

Objectives

  1. Strengthen the capacity of Member States to implement the MPOWER package tobacco control measures contained in the FCTC within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic using a multi-sectoral approach
  2. Provide economic arguments to achieve coherence between fiscal and public health policies regarding excise taxes on tobacco products, focusing on their use within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Present best practices in the use and administration of excise taxes on tobacco products.
  4. Provide economic arguments and regional evidence to promote the implementation of other non-price tobacco control measures and counter the tobacco industry's arguments against tobacco control measures.

Tageted Audience

This course is intended for Member States’ government officials from PAHO / WHO involved in the design, monitoring, and evaluation of tobacco tax policies from the Ministries of Revenue, Finance, Economy, Trade, Customs; as well as for FCTC focal points from the Ministries of Health, Foreign Affairs, other government officials involved in tobacco control, Economists (civil society and academia), and activists working on tobacco control in the Region of the Americas.

Duration of the course

12 hours

Course Structure

  • Module 1: The economic and social impact of tobacco (3 hours)
  • Module 2: Tobacco Taxes: From Theory to Practice (3 hours)
  • Module 3: The Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products and Evidence to Counter the Arguments Against Tobacco Taxes (3 hours)
  • Module 4: The Economics of Non-Price Related Tobacco Control Policies (3 hours)