SFP Conference Report: High Level Roundtable on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade

Friday, 04 May 2018

Sofia, Bulgaria: following the roundtable organised by SFP in conjunction with the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU on 25-26 April 2018, the report below captures the key discussion points from the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring together representatives from across Governments in the European region (Finance, Revenue and Customs Authorities), from Parliaments, as well as officials from the European Commission (DG TAXUD, SANTE and OLAF), the World Health Organisation, civil society organisations and leading global experts in tobacco taxation and illicit trade.

Key Conclusions:

- The first session focused on the Illicit Trade Protocol (ITP). Participants agreed that ITP ratification and implementation should be regional and indeed global priorities. The main foreseeable challenges include securing political will for ratification, building technical capacity amongst Parties, and ensuring adequate global governance of the Protocol.

- The second session focused on strategies to fight illicit trade, including tracking and tracing. Participants agreed that tracking and tracing systems have great potential as part of a comprehensive supply chain control. The main foreseeable challenges include the multi-sectoral cooperation within governments, the inclusion of civil society, and the safeguarding of traceability systems from vested interests of the tobacco industry or other operators.

- The third session focused on the role of tobacco taxation in a health context. Participants agreed that tobacco industry myths and tactics to undermine tobacco taxes must be exposed and refuted in order to smoothen political will for tax increases. A clearer link between tobacco taxation and health objectives could also be made, and different strategies could be used to maximise the health and revenue impact of tobacco excise increases.

- The fourth session focused on the possible review of the EU Tobacco Tax Directive. Participants discussed the main priorities of the SFP position paper on the topic, including a clear health objective to reduce tobacco prevalence by 30% by 2025 and the use of tobacco excises to increase price convergence between countries and product categories.

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