The World Health Organization Tuesday urged Cambodia to increase taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products in order to raise state revenues and discourage smokers.
“Increasing tobacco tax will reduce consumption especially among the higher prevalence groups such as low-income and uneducated groups,” Ayda Yurekli, coordinator for the WHO Tobacco Control Economics Unit, said here in a press briefing after a 2-day Workshop on Tobacco Taxation System.
She said that if the government increases a 10 percent tax on tobacco, it will reduce the prevalence by 2.5 percent to 5 percent.
“Moreover, tax increase will bring more revenues for the state coffer and will help reduce tobacco-related deaths,” she said.
Speaking at the workshop, Hang Chuon Naron, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, said the government is considering the tax increase for tobacco.
He acknowledged that Cambodia is among countries that have low excise tax rate with the rate of only 10 percent on tobacco and is considered the lowest in the region and in the world, while other countries in the region have higher rate, such as Malaysia 25 percent, Laos 15-30 percent, Vietnam 65 percent and Thailand 85 percent.
Eng Ratana, deputy director of the Finance Ministry’s Department of Large Taxpayers, said that Cambodia collected the taxes of 16 million U.S. dollars from tobacco last year and additional 11 million U.S. dollars in the first 8 months of this year.
The country has the population of about 14.5 million. Of the number, 7.5 million people are adults.