Should Thailand Raise ‘Sin Taxes’ On Cigarettes and Alcohol?

An expert has called for Thailand to raise ‘sin taxes’ in order to help fund universal healthcare in the country, reports the Bangkok Post.

Sin taxes are the taxes levied on such sinful goods as cigarettes and alcohol.

Pontificating specifically on the merits of raising the tobacco tax, Prakit Vathesatogkit – panel chairman of a joint venture between the Thai government and World Health Organisation (WHO) – said that a raise of 10 percent on tobacco would spur a 4 percent decline in smoking.

This would be particularly effective on the lower-income levels of the population.

WHO have long asserted the benefits of higher tobacco tax, arguing that it provides a triple sided bonus for governments: increased revenue from taxes, better public health and less expenses on healthcare.

In Thailand, a proportion of the money raised from sin taxes every year is allocated to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, an autonomous government agency dedicated to the following mission:

“To inspire, motivate, coordinate, and empower individuals and organizations in all sectors for the enhancement of health promotive capability as well as healthy society and environment to support health promotion movement in Thailand.”

Only now in its 14-year history is it facing the threat of a government overhaul, according to The Nation.

Seven board members of the organisation were recently dismissed via an order from prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Dr Wichai Chokwiwat, one of the dismissed and a respected pillar in the healthcare industry, said he suspected the dismissals may have had something to do with the organisations heavy campaigning against smoking and alcohol.

He suggested foreign alcohol and cigarette firms may have been behind the dismissals, although this has been vehemently denied by Justice Minister, Paiboon Koomchaya.


Featured image is by drburtoni and used under a Creative Commons licence