WHO Works to Hike Cigarette Prices to $33 Per Pack
This week, the World Health Organization held the biennial Conference of Parties meeting in Moscow to discuss new measures for tobacco control. The latest idea is a global tobacco tax that could send cigarette prices sky rocketing to $33 per pack. WHO discussed the possibilities in secret and blocked all media from attending, which created a lot of frustration and further distrust in the agency’s true motives.
According to the Washington Post, delegates opened the meeting by demanding that all media and public attendees be removed before they discussed business. “We don’t need the public here!” said Uganda’s delegate. “We don’t know who these people are,” Libya delegate Mohamed Ibrahim Saleh Daganee insisted. Another delegate from South America agreed that the public must be removed. “I don’t see the usefulness of having the public in these meetings,” he said.
Despite the fact that this delicate issue will impact taxpayers around the globe, WHO delegates refused to discuss anything until the room was cleared out. It came down to a vote and the majority voted in favor of kicking out all public citizens and media personnel. At that point, Russian security officers stepped in and removed the visibly shaken crowd of spectators from the premises. With the doors shut, the meeting resumed and world leaders began discussing the new global tobacco tax.
It’s no surprise that they wanted to keep a lid on their plans because it would undoubtedly create outrage among the world’s taxpayers. The plan would require all countries that signed a UN anti-tobacco agreement to enact a new tax equaling a minimum of 70 percent of the retail price for tobacco products. This would essentially force almost ever major world nation into sky high tobacco prices, with the exception of Indonesia, Switzerland, and the United States.
Such a sweeping decision completely dismisses the needs of individual companies and it creates a dangerous precedent for global taxes that could later be used to target other commodities like the Internet, firearms, or even fast food. There are also rumors that WHO will work to add a similar global tax to e-cigarettes if they are successful with this tobacco tax.
If WHO succeeds to enforce their new taxation plan, it would put tremendous financial strain on tobacco users, forcing many to cut back or even quit, which is ultimately what the delegates hope will happen.
Do you think this new global tobacco tax crosses the line of what is appropriate power for the World Health Organization?