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The economics of tobacco control (Part 2): evidence from the ITC Project
  1. Corné van Walbeek
  1. Correspondence to Professor Corné van Walbeek, Room 5.05, School of Economics, Middle Campus, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700, South Africa; cwalbeek{at}gmail.com

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Introduction

The empirical evidence for the effectiveness of excise tax increases as a tool for tobacco control and for generating government revenue is overwhelming. Although initially this evidence was generated primarily in high-income countries, the past two decades has seen much evidence originating in low-income and middle-income countries. The findings are broadly similar. The answer to the question, “Are excise taxes effective as a tobacco control instrument?” is an unambiguous “Yes.”

This supplement considers secondary questions. For example, how do tax and/or price increases affect different demographic groups’ smoking behaviour? How does the tax structure influence the effectiveness of excise tax increases? Do certain individual or community characteristics impact the effectiveness of excise tax increases? Are minimum price laws (MPLs) equally/more/less effective than tobacco excise tax increases to reduce smoking? How do smokers avoid tax or price increases?

These topics do not question the effectiveness of excise tax increases as a tobacco control instrument, but they allow researchers and policymakers to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities associated with tax and price increases. While time series data and cross-sectional data were sufficient to establish the effectiveness of excise tax increases as a tobacco control tool, many of the secondary questions require more sophisticated data. Longitudinal data allow researchers to do exactly that.

The International Tobacco Control Project

The International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project), founded in 2002, systematically evaluates key policies of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Starting with four countries (Canada, the USA, the UK and Australia), it has expanded rapidly and is currently in 22 countries, containing more than 50% of the world's population, 60% of the world's smokers and 70% of the world's tobacco users.

This supplement consists of 13 papers. Of these, 10 consider individual countries (China (2), Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico (2), South Korea, Uruguay, the …

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