Tax solutions for optimal reduction of tobacco use in West Africa
During the first phase of this project, numerous decision-makers were engaged and involved in discussions with the goal of establishing a new taxation system to reduce tobacco use in West Africa. Although regional economic authorities (ECOWAS and WAEMU) are preparing to adopt new tobacco taxation guidelines, the lack of local evidence remains a major barrier to the implementation of national fiscal policies. As a result, decision-makers are ill-equipped to evaluate the potential effects of tax increases on their government's tax revenue and on public health, and to set objectives for reduced tobacco use. This study will estimate the costs of tobacco use in Senegal and show, for the first time, the extent of the chronic morbidity and the economic costs associated with tobacco use in a West African country. In addition, data on tobacco demand in Senegal and Nigeria (collected in 2015) will be used to determine the optimal taxation rates required to considerably reduce tobacco use in these two countries. Lastly, the study will assess the true economic contribution of the industry in a selection of West African countries, estimate the effects of increased taxes on illicit trade, and perform an in-depth analysis of the tax systems in these countries. These analyses will be used to develop concrete reforms that will overcome the barriers to implementing effective tobacco control measures in the various countries in the region. It is expected that by the end of the project, the introduction of excise duties and regular tax increases will be widely accepted, and more than half of the countries will reform their tax systems to integrate these measures and promote the health of their population.