- Does prohibitively taxing items based on their impact on health have a significant effect on public use of those items?
- If taxes or public education programmes are used with the intention of improving public health are the right food groups being taxed, promoted or discouraged?
Effect of the increase in “alcopops” tax on alcohol-relatedharms in young people: a controlled interrupted time series
Similarly, taxes on cigarettes have had only a marginal effect.
The current focus of the anti-tobacco lobby on the rights and health of non-smokers has led to a proliferation of smoking bans in enclosed public places. The NSW Parliament only recently passed the Smoking Environment Amendment Act 2004 which will gradually phase-in an extension of smoking bans to include licensed premises in NSW. The support for such smoking bans has been growing and the implementation of similar restrictions in Ireland and New York appears to have been successful.
Smoking bans are only one method of tobacco control. The use of tobacco is also controlled through restrictions on the way it is packaged and advertised. Particular strategies are applied to minors such as prohibiting the manufacture and sale of toys and confectionery that resemble tobacco or the act of smoking, as well as prohibiting the sale of tobacco to persons under the age of 18. Health warnings have been included on tobacco packages for thirty years but have continued to adapt to contemporary requirements with graphic warnings the most recent development. The price of tobacco may be influenced by taxation policies and smoking cessation can be encouraged through media campaigns, and the availability of nicotine replacement therapy and telephone counselling. Litigation may also affect the activities of tobacco companies.
Tobacco continues to be the cause of much death and disease not only in Australia but also worldwide. The damage attributed to tobacco has been recognised by the World Health Organization and by the numerous countries to have signed and/or ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Accordingly, governments continue to seek strategies that will encourage the minimisation, prevention and cessation of tobacco use.
Cheers, Alan, T2, Australia
Everything in Moderation - Except Laughter
PS See also this follow-up post: The Fat Tax: Dare I say I Told Them So?