Fabian Demicoli

Consultation: New structure and rates of excise duty applied on manufactured tobacco

 The European Commission has published a proposal that tackles the issue of tobacco taxation as it was felt that important amendments to existing Community legislation in order to modernise and simplify the existing rules, make them more transparent and better integrate public health concerns were needed. In addition, this proposal deals with the alignment of excise duties for fine-cut smoking tobacco ("roll-your-own") with excise duties for cigarettes.

Smoking is still the biggest single form of avoidable death in the Community and one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the EU, with about 650,000 smoking-related deaths per year in the Community.

Smoking is still the biggest single form of avoidable death in the Community and one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the EU, with about 650,000 smoking-related deaths per year in the Community.

Taxation forms part of an overall strategy of prevention and dissuasion which also includes other reduction demand measures such as non-price measures, protection from exposure to tobacco smoke, regulation of the contents, etc. However, according to the World Bank price increases of tobacco products are the most effective single intervention to prevent smoking. A price increase of 10 % decreases consumption on average by about 4% in high income countries among adults.

This proposal suggests the setting of a monetary minimum duty and establishing a tax "floor" for all cigarettes sold in the EU allowing to address health concerns for all categories of cigarettes. It increases the minimum requirements in order to contribute to a reduction in tobacco consumption over the forthcoming five years, notably by preventing that Member States' tobacco control policies be undermined by considerably lower levels in other Member States.

In addition the proposal allows Member States greater flexibility to apply specific duties and to levy minimum excise duties on cigarettes in order to achieve health objectives.

Finally it brings the minimum rates and structure for fine-cut tobacco intended for the rolling of cigarettes into line with the rate and structure for cigarettes in order to discourage substitution of cigarettes by fine cut.

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