Taxes, health and sanitation
This statement should be qualified because, in the case of taxes of snuff, several surveys indicate that 50-55% of the population welcomed an increase in excise duties to reduce the devastating effects of this product in public health .
However there is a clear view of society on taxes on alcohol or other potentially harmful to the health of children as saturated fats and sugary drinks.
In addition to snuff, there is a growing social consensus that childhood obesity, abuse of alcohol and sugary drinks are a serious threat to the future of new generations. Faced with this threat and already visible in the health of children.
One of them is quite reductionist all in the education center as a universal panacea. Advocates of this approach raise education to the highest level of preventive activity and consider taxes or regulations as an attack on free enterprise and free personal choice.
But there are several empirical facts that seriously question this view. In the case of alcohol Finland reduced taxes on alcohol in 2004, the result was a significant increase in subsequent years of mortality in middle age of life-related illnesses.
In Spain, in the 90's there was a substantial tax increase affecting mostly snuff the black snuff. The result was well demonstrated a decrease in the percentage of smokers.
A study by the Ministry of Economy 2003 estimated that in Spain every 10% increase in price of snuff consumption was reduced by 4%. What does that mean? raising taxes reduces consumption, but increases revenue.
We are confident that there would be a social consensus for raising taxes of snuff and alcohol that cause many deaths each year in our country. The aim should be twofold: to deter use and attract more resources to the health system.
Other taxes might be raised would affect industrial foods rich in trans gauze or sugary drinks.
Some countries are considering it and Spain have already been put in place some regulations to limit the sale of these products in schools and schools for children under 18.
And is that education and good words are necessary, but in a society surrounded by greedy merchants whose purpose is profit without limits, some regulations are necessary to try to really have a balance in the elements that come into play to make the best options.
Children are a target for unscrupulous traders whose aim is new and unsuspecting consumers and make them addicted (case of snuff) or just regular consumers of a series of unnecessary and useless products to have a fairly healthy growth and development.
In the case of snuff is far more effective that adolescents have a snuff expensive and difficult to acquire than any other media of "prevention." The consumer price elasticity in teens is much more intense than in adults because of their economic limitations. Thus for every 10% increase in tax snuff consumption is reduced by 8-10%.
No studies are available in Spain, what would happen with sugary drinks or industrial products rich in trans fats but it is easy to assume that an increase in price and regulation of their sale to minors would decrease consumption and the effects on health future generations. On the other hand would encourage industries to produce products with a healthier profile. There are many reasons to think that only in this context would be effective education and get much better targeted.
In the case of alcohol, experts recommend a tax increase (in Spain 16% cheaper than the European average according to Eurostat), and a series of regulatory measures such as the reduction and control of outlets, restricting real hours of sale, removal of the advertising and sponsorship of alcohol and measures that support effective educational programs. In the case of snuff should be adjusted annually by the minimum tax and the specific level of inflation and significantly increase the minimum tax for the snuff rolling from it comparable to conventional cigarettes.
There are certain products whose price is well below private social cost generated by consumption. This is the main justification for claiming a continuous and significant increase in their taxes. Therefore, some taxes can be downright healthy and acceptable, although clear, this seems like a sin for the prevailing neo-liberal dogmas.
Drs. Francisco Rodrigo Córdoba and Camarelles
Members of the National Committee juna directive for Smoking Prevention (NPTC)