Tobacco excise duties in Belgium: A small country but cheap for tobacco products. Proposal from the Belgian Alliance for a smoke-free society to increase tobacco excise duties
 
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Kom op tegen Kanker, Brussels, Belgium
Publication date: 2021-12-10
 
Tob. Prev. Cessation 2021;7(Supplement):6
 
ABSTRACT
Background:
Belgium is one of the cheaper countries in Western-Europe.

Objectives:
With the formation of the new government in view, the Alliance for a Smoke Free Society (ASF) decided to push for a raise in tobacco excise duties.

Methods:
To work towards a smoke free generation, the Belgian Alliance for a Smoke Free Society pleads in its policy paper for targeted tobacco excise duties policy measures:
1. Phase out the difference in consumer price between RYO-tobacco and cigarettes to prevent consumers from switching products;
2. Decrease the consumer price gap between Belgium and France and the Netherlands;
3. Increase the specific excise duty so that tax raises cannot be countered by decreasing the net price of tobacco;
4. Increase the minimum excise duty; and
5. Link the specific excise duties to inflation.
ASF made a concrete proposal to put these principles into practice, taking into account practices in neighboring countries.

Results:
The new government substantially raised excise duties on tobacco in 2021. The effects were clear: one of the brands increased its prices from €6.80 to €7.50. For the RYO tobacco 50 g of a particular brand, prices went from €9.70 to €11.00. Nonetheless, Belgium remains, together with Luxemburg, a cheap country when it comes to tobacco products. In the agreement on the Belgium–Luxemburg Economical Union there is also a chapter on common tobacco excise duties.

Conclusions:
ASF succeeded in raising taxes on tobacco products. Currently, it is too soon to view the impact of this increase on smoking rates. The corona pandemic and recent French legislation also affected sales figures. Tax revenues from the first months of 2021 will however be available at the time of the conference. The government also scheduled an increase in excise duties in the following years. The ASF meanwhile continues its efforts to raise taxes within a broader antitobacco plan.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
No Conflicts of Interest were reported.
eISSN:2459-3087