February 3, 2015
PAHO pleased with increase in excise duty on tobacco in SVG

The Pan American Health Organization has deemed the increase in excise duty on tobacco products in St Vincent and the Grenadines, “a success story.”

During the 2015 Budget presentation last week, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced Government’s proposal to increase the rate of excise duty on cigarettes from $0.55 to $1.55 per 100 sticks. This measure is estimated to yield an additional $0.5 million per annum.{{more}}

Dr Tomo Kanda, advisor, Chronic Diseases, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Office for Barbados and Eastern Caribbean countries said, “We would like to share a success story of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ increased tobacco tax….We are very pleased to see this progress. This is a wonderful outcome after the Sub-Regional Meeting on Tobacco Tax and Prices held last year in Barbados.”

In his presentation, Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, said figures produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) show that of all CARICOM countries with a specific excise duty on cigarettes, St Vincent and the Grenadines has the lowest rate.

“In fact the percentage of excise duty in the final retail price of a (20 stick) pack of cigarette in St Vincent was 2.2 percent compared with other countries ranging from Dominica at 10.4 percent to St Lucia at 48.6 percent.

“As we are all aware tobacco use is a major risk factor for the four major non-communicable diseases in St Vincent and the Grenadines namely cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease.”

Gonsalves said the increased tax will also help to fulfil the obligations of St Vincent and the Grenadines as a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Consumption (FCTC), which includes the implementation of tax policies and pricing policies on tobacco products to contribute to the health objective aimed at reducing tobacco consumption.