Call to increase tax on tobacco

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Coming a cropper: there are calls for tobacco to be taxed to raise money and improve public health. Supplied

The government has been urged to increase tax on tobacco to improve public health and reduce poverty in the country.
The call was made by the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance ahead of World No Tobacco Day tomorrow.
The World Health Organisation has themed this year’s event: “Tobacco – a threat to development.”
Bungon Ritthiphakdee, executive director of the alliance, said the economy of a country suffers when smokers cannot work because they are sick or dying. 
She added that cash spent on tobacco means less money for necessities such as food, health care, shelter and education, while diseases from tobacco drive people deeper into poverty when breadwinners fall sick or die early. 
“Substantial tobacco tax increases is a win-win policy for public health,” she said. 
“It is also the most direct and effective measure to reduce smoking especially among the poor.”
Taxes saved lives by discouraging tobacco use and raised revenue for health and social development programmes, she added. 
Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health, supported the call. 
“This would increase tax revenue and reduce the suffering of victims from tobacco-related diseases,” he said, urging the government to take lessons from other countries that have implemented such policies. 
Ray Rany, head of the Health Ministry’s tobacco and health office, said a working group is considering the issue.  
According to a Cambodia Movement for Health report, about 10,000 Cambodians die annually from tobacco use.
The value of cigarettes in Cambodia each year is about $200 million.
That equates to the construction of more than 40,000 wooden houses for the rural population. 

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