Impact of a recent tobacco tax reform in Argentina
Publication Source

Tobacco Control

Journal article
The Americas
Economy status
Upper-middle-income economies
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The literature on policies for the control of the tobacco epidemic suggests that increasing excise taxes on the consumption of tobacco products is the most cost-effective policy. Cigarette tax structure in Argentina is very complex. All the tax bases for cigarette consumption taxes are related and, therefore, any modification of a tax affects the collection of the rest of the taxes. This is important given that funds raised by one of the taxes, the Special Tobacco Fund (FET), are allocated among the tobacco provinces according to the value of tobacco production. These provinces oppose in the congress to any reform that increase taxes on cigarette consumption that negatively affects these funds. In May 2016, the government decided to increase the rate of one of the taxes, the internal tax, from 60% to 75%. We study the impact on cigarettes’ demand price elasticity, consumption and tax revenues of this tobacco tax reform. Using an Error Correction Model, we estimate short-run and long-run demand price and income elasticities. We find that the tax reform of May 2016 induced an increase in the magnitude, in absolute value, of the short-run demand price elasticity and at the same time increased the funds collected by the FET. We simulate the effects of the tax reform over the government revenues and per-capita consumption of cigarettes showing that additional increments in taxes would increase revenues and diminish consumption of cigarettes.