The Benefits of Implementing State-Level Tobacco Taxes

A new study by CIAD shows state-level tobacco taxes in Mexico can improve public health & boost revenue. A win-win strategy for a healthier, wealthier nation.

The Benefits of Implementing State-Level Tobacco Taxes
Research Professor Luis Huesca Reynoso leads CIAD's groundbreaking study on state-level tobacco taxes in Mexico, promoting better public health. Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Smoking is a global health concern that not only affects individuals but also burdens healthcare systems and economies. In a groundbreaking study conducted by the Center for Research in Food and Development (CIAD), the benefits of implementing state-level tobacco taxes in Mexico have been revealed. The research, carried out in partnership with the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), sheds light on the positive impact that increasing tobacco taxes can have on public health and government revenue.

Luis Huesca Reynoso, a research professor at CIAD's Regional Development Coordination, has spearheaded the initiative to examine the economic effects of tobacco taxation in Mexico. This project has received support from UIC, a partner in the Bloomberg Initiative to reduce tobacco use, underscoring the significance and relevance of their findings.

CIAD's comprehensive analyses can be accessed at their website, providing transparency and accessibility to stakeholders and policymakers. One of the latest studies explored two scenarios for states enjoying taxing powers to implement a subnational excise tax on cigarettes. The first scenario proposed a moderate subnational excise tax of 4.5%, while the second recommended a more significant increase in the specific component of the excise tax, fixing it at $1.50 per cigarette.

The first reform, with a relatively modest tax increase, is projected to lead to a minimal price rise of only 1.1% for cigarettes. On the other hand, the second scenario, with a higher fixed tax per cigarette, would have a more pronounced impact on prices. Notably, the study suggests that states with higher poverty rates, such as Chiapas, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Tlaxcala, would experience the most substantial reductions in tobacco consumption. Conversely, states with lower poverty levels, like Jalisco, State of Mexico, Mexico City, and Nuevo León, would witness smaller declines in consumption.

The findings reveal that a local tax approach could result in consumption drops of over 40% in four states, more than 30% in twenty states, and less than 30% in eight states. In terms of revenue generation, the first reform alone is estimated to produce an increase of $885 million pesos. However, setting the federal excise tax at $1.50 per cigarette would lead to an additional 1.112 billion pesos in revenue, on top of the initial $885 million pesos. Remarkably, these tax reforms are not anticipated to negatively impact poverty levels.

Huesca Reynoso highlights a crucial concern: the revenue distributed to federal entities has not been specifically allocated to address the health costs associated with smoking, despite the persistence of the tobacco epidemic in Mexico. Consequently, the study underscores the need for continued promotion of increased excise taxes on cigarettes. It argues in favor of reforms that allow states to establish a specific local tax—a fixed amount per unit of the product—rather than an ad valorem tax (a percentage of the product's value). This shift in approach would yield more substantial benefits by not only reducing consumption but also increasing government revenue, which could then be utilized to tackle diseases linked to tobacco consumption.

The implementation of state-level tobacco taxes is an integral step towards achieving better public health outcomes and fostering economic growth. By curbing smoking rates, these taxes can significantly reduce the burden on healthcare systems and improve the well-being of the population. Moreover, the increased revenue generated by such taxes can be channeled into targeted programs and initiatives that address the health consequences of tobacco use.

Notably, other countries have successfully adopted similar taxation strategies to combat smoking and boost their economies. In the United States, for instance, various states have implemented substantial tobacco taxes, resulting in reduced tobacco use and increased revenue for essential public services. This model can serve as an inspiring example for Mexico to follow, as it has the potential to pave the way for a healthier, wealthier, and more prosperous nation.

In conclusion, the CIAD's study underlines the numerous benefits of implementing state-level tobacco taxes in Mexico. Such a move would not only contribute to improved public health by reducing tobacco consumption but also boost government revenue, providing vital resources to combat the health costs associated with smoking. By following in the footsteps of successful international models, Mexico can move towards a healthier, more prosperous future for its citizens, making tobacco taxation a win-win strategy for both public health and economic growth.