WHO expert calls for Cambodia to raise tobacco taxes

28 June 2024

By Tith Kongnov, Khmer Times

The representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cambodia, Ada Moadsiri, has called for an increase in the special tax on cigarettes in the Kingdom, as the current taxes being levied on cigarettes are not doing enough to discourage their use or raising enough revenues to offset the cost in terms of healthcare and economic output caused by tobacco-related illnesses.

Moadsiri was speaking at the event “Youth Forum on Tobacco Tax Measures” yesterday, organised by the Royal Academy of Cambodia and supported by the Cambodia Health Movement Organisation.

Moadsiri said yesterday that an effective increase in the special tax on cigarettes would require stakeholders to keep cigarette prices higher and make it more difficult for Cambodians to adopt the habit.

She said that the obstacles that have prevented the increase in the special tax on cigarettes in the past are mostly due to misinformation spread by the tobacco industry, which claims that the increase in the special tax on cigarettes hurts poor families and leads to a loss of state tax income due to increases in blackmarket sales activity in order to escape the higher tax rate.

“We see that this delusion of the tobacco industry that claims that raising taxes on cigarettes will lead to tax evasion is fake and I think the tobacco industry uses these fantasies for the sole purpose of preventing or delaying the special tax on cigarettes,” she said.

Touch Chanthy, representative of the Council for Economic, Social, and Cultural Affairs, also supported the Government’s decision to increase the special tax on cigarettes, emphasising that raising the special tax on cigarettes will help the government improve the health and well-being of the people.

Sok Touch, President of the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), said yesterday that he supported the WHO’s decision to increase a special tax on cigarettes because he has seen many young people using cigarettes recently, which will eventually have a negative impact on human resources in Cambodia.

Cambodia Movement for Health Executive Director Mom Kong said that all other countries that have raised vice taxes, especially on cigarettes, have received a significant increase in tax revenue.