Background Although higher taxation of tobacco products is considered the most cost-effective tobacco control policy, its negative impact on low-income groups is one of the arguments used against it.
Objective To investigate the impact of current excise taxes and the increases of excise taxes on tobacco and household expenditures by expenditure tertiles, and examine who pays excise taxes in general.
Method Impacts of excise taxes on cigarettes are examined with a budgetary approach. We first estimate the price elasticity of cigarettes by expenditure tertiles using data from the 2003 Turkish Household Expenditure Survey, the most recent data set covering detailed tobacco product information relevant to our analysis. We then conduct a number of simulation analyses by increasing the excise taxes per pack of cigarettes and examine the impacts of these increases on household expenditures. Finally, as excise tax increases, we predict the total excise tax paid by households in different expenditure tertiles and compare the concentration curve of excise tax spending with the Lorenz curve showing the cumulative share of total household expenditures by expenditure tertiles. We estimate the progressivity coefficient that measures the area between the Lorenz and concentration curves.
Results The low-income group is found to be the most sensitive to tax and price increases. It spends a relatively higher share of the household expenditure on cigarettes compared with higher income groups. However, the results suggest a different outcome as excise tax increases; the share of household expenditures spent on cigarettes declines for all household tertiles but a significant reduction occurs on the lowest expenditure tertile, suggesting that increases in excise taxes are progressive. Furthermore, the highest expenditure tertile pays the highest excise tax among expenditure tertiles, and their share in total excise revenue increases as the excise tax per pack of cigarettes increases.
Conclusions The poor smoking households benefit the most from increases in excise taxes; from a budgetary perspective, as they reduce their smoking consumption significantly, the share of their excise payment in total household expenditures declines. From a health perspective, they are likely to have more health benefits as their consumption reduces. Government revenues are also predicted to increase with increased excise taxes, and the government can allocate a part of these revenue increases on implementing and enforcing other tobacco control measures including cessation support and smoke-free environments.
- Socioeconomic status
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