SFP position paper: Tobacco taxes save lives

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Brussels, 23 June 2021: Our newly published paper contains SFP’s policy proposals for the revision of the EU Tobacco Tax Directive 2011/64/EU.

Taxation is one of the most effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption by preventing uptake and reducing consumption, reducing health inequalities,  and increasing government revenues. The revision of the EU Tobacco Tax Directive 2011/64/EU (EU TTD) should explicitly recognise that, and in addition to improving the functioning of the Internal Market, EU tax legislation should strive to achieve the highest possible level of health protection and contribute to achieving Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan 2040 target:

  • The European Beating Cancer Plan aims to reduce tobacco use by 30% by 2025 compared to 2010 to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and WHO targets and to achieve a tobacco free generation with tobacco use under 5% by 2040[i].

The EU TTD should also aim to achieve upwards convergence of taxes and prices of tobacco products in the EU internal market by decreasing the price differentials between member states that incentivize illicit cross-border shopping and undermine price policies in Member States.

In this paper we put forward several policy proposals and scenarios for review of the EU TTD. Each of these proposals is based on evidence, whether derived from studies or from practice. The paper demonstrates how the policy changes we propose will impact:

  • The price gaps between Member States
  • The expected change in price differentials in cross-border shopping hotspots


[i] European Commission, Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, p.8,

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