The TobTaxy capacity building project will train the public health/tobacco control (TC) community on tax and illicit trade issues so that they can effectively support on-going European and international policy initiatives which are in line with the overall EU approach on tobacco control and Articles 6 and 15 (taxation and smuggling respectively) of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
The smoking related deaths of 650.000 Europeans each year and the suffering of 13 million more from serious, chronic diseases are entirely preventable. Smoking and its health consequences are also making a significant contribution to the widening gap in health inequalities across the EU.
Taxation is an appropriate and powerful tool for governments to use, both to tackle smoking rates and to re-balance health inequalities. There is convincing evidence from the World Bank, the WHO and others that price increases are the most cost effective TC measure, especially for young people and others on low incomes who are highly price responsive.
The strategic relevance of this project is that it will provide public health advocates with much needed training so that they can contribute confidently to the various on-going policy initiatives on taxation and smuggling at national, European and international level. It will also increase understanding and use of the Healthy Life Year indicator regarding the opportunity cost (benefits forgone) of doing too little to prevent ill-health.
Comprised of 7 European organisations and a panel of 9 health economists, TobTaxy will reach public health advocates across Europe by targeting 31 associated European countries. The project, will provide civil society with a European focal point to address individual, organisational and societal needs and training issues relevant to one of the most effective policy action in tobacco control: the taxation and illicit trade of tobacco products. A series of training packages and 31 advocacy tool kits will be developed; these will include the HLY indicator, national data, the rationale for higher taxes and prices of tobacco products, the effects of illicit trade on tax and price policy, questions and answers, rebuttal arguments and method to estimate tax as share of price, price elasticity, etc. The tool kits will also include cartoons to lighten up what is normally perceived as a very complex issue. By sharing policy and scientific expertise between the country based partners, the project should generating economies of scale at both the national and European levels.
TobTaxy has the potential to reduce health inequalities and promote health outcomes across Europe; The project will culminate in the development of advocacy strategies and tool kits promoting the effective implementation of Articles 6 and 15 of the FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control). Given the leading role of the EU in the FCTC negotiations and in developing an illicit trade protocol, this project could also be adapted in other regions of the World. Finally, this capacity building project will also provide a successful example of how policies, whose primary aim is not public health, can be used to achieve public health goals.