Excessive tobacco consumption is an important public health policy issue. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), 32% of the adult population in Georgia smoked tobacco in 2019 (WHO, 2021). The prevalence of smoking in men was 56.9 percent – the fourth in the world and first in Europe.
On November 19, ISET was visited by Mr. Alan Fuchs of the World Bank Group, whose presentation, 'Taxing Tobacco in Georgia: The welfare and distributional gains of quitting smoking’, delved into the welfare and distributional impact of increasing taxes on tobacco in Georgia.
On May 17, 2017, the Georgian government adopted amendments to the Tobacco Control Law with 85 votes in favor and only one against. This highly debated new regulation, which bans smoking in public places, was initiated by Parliament member Ms. Guguli Maghradze who just recently discussed the obesity problem in Georgia, which is caused partly by excess sugar consumption.
After a hike in excise tax on cigarettes in January 2017, the Parliament of Georgia is going to introduce legislative changes to the existing tobacco control law (TCL) in March. Since its enactment in 2003, TCL has been modified several times. However, the recently proposed changes can be considered the most radical step towards a tobacco-free society in Georgia. New draft law comprehensively covers production, packaging, marketing, advertising, selling and consumption of tobacco, and other activities of tobacco businesses.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that cigarettes are bad for human health. Yet, whenever the government tries to regulate the consumption of cigarettes by increasing their price, it gets a very mixed reaction from the public. Some people (mostly non-smokers) welcome these policies, while others accuse the government of being greedy and proclaim the policies ineffective. Who is right and who is wrong in this debate? Let’s take a closer look at the facts.