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The recent and projected public health and economic benefits of cigarette taxation in Greece
  1. Hillel R Alpert1,
  2. Constantine I Vardavas1,2,
  3. Frank J Chaloupka3,
  4. Athanassios Vozikis4,
  5. Konstantinos Athanasakis5,
  6. Ioannis Kyriopoulos5,
  7. Monique Bertic1,
  8. Panagiotis K Behrakis1,2,6,
  9. Gregory N Connolly1
  1. 1Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Hellenic Cancer Society, Smoking and Lung Cancer Research Center, Athens, Greece
  3. 3Department of Economics and Health Policy Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  4. 4Department of Economics, University of Piraeus, Athens, Greece
  5. 5National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece
  6. 6Foundation for Biomedical Research of the Academy of Athens, Athens, Greece
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hillel R Alpert, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Center for Global Tobacco Control, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA; halpert{at}hsph.harvard.edu

Abstract

Objectives Greece is in an economic crisis compounded by the costs caused by smoking. The present investigation estimates the economic and public health benefits ensuing from the recent cigarette excise tax increase in 2011 and projects the potential benefits from an additional €2.00 per pack cigarette tax increase.

Methods The effects of the recent cigarette excise tax increase were calculated on outcome measures: total price per pack, including specific excise, ad valorem tax, and value-added tax consumption; tax revenue; and per capita consumption of cigarettes. Additionally, smoking-attributable mortality, years of potential life lost, and productivity losses were estimated. Projected effects of an additional €2.00 per pack tax increase on consumption and tax revenue were also assessed.

Results The cigarette excise tax increase in 2011 created €558 million in new tax revenue. Cigarette consumption reached a recent low of 24.9 billion sticks sold or 2197 sticks per person in 2011, indicating a 16% decrease in per capita cigarette consumption from the previous year. An additional €2.00 per pack increase in Greek cigarette taxes is projected to result in reduced cigarette sales by an additional 20% and lead to an increase in total cigarette tax revenues by nearly €1.2 billion and the prevention of 192 000 premature deaths.

Conclusions Nations such as Greece, should employ taxation as a crucial measure to promote public health and economic development in such dire times. International economic organisations should aggressively pursue programmes and policies that champion the economic benefits of tobacco taxation.

  • Economics
  • Prevention
  • Public policy
  • Taxation
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