Public support for increased tobacco taxation in Europe is highest in more affluent counties

Increased taxation on tobacco products can be an effective method of reducing tobacco use. In a study published in the Scandinavian Journal  Public Health, Filippos Filippidis and myself, along with colleagues from Harvard University, assessed support for increased taxation on tobacco products and other tobacco control measures among people aged ≥15 years in 27 European Union (EU) during the period 2009-2012.

We obtained nationally representative data from the 2009 (n=26,788) and 2012 (n=26,751) cross-sectional Eurobarometer surveys. Estimates were compared using chi-square statistics. The effect of the relative change in gross domestic product (GDP) on the change in support for increased taxation during 2009-2012 was calculated using the Pearson correlation coefficient and linear regression models.

We found that between 2009 and 2012, support for increased taxes on tobacco products declined (56.1% to 53.2%. However, support for other tobacco control measures increased significantly. After adjusting for baseline GDP per capita (2009), a 10% increase in GDP per capita was associated with 4.5% increase in support of tax increases. There was a strong correlation between the change in GDP and support for increased taxes (correlation coefficient 0.64). Also, after adjusting for baseline GDP, support for higher taxes on tobacco increased by 7.0% for every 10% increase in GDP between 2009 and 2012.

We concluded that population support for tax increases declined in the EU between 2009 and 2012, especially in countries with declines in GCP. Nonetheless, public support for other tobacco control measures remains high, thus indicating a viable environment for the use of more comprehensive tobacco control policies.

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