Global Health Research and Policy
Tobacco use continues to kill millions of people globally, making it one of the major causes of preventable deaths. Notwithstanding, there has been a very marginal fall in the prevalence of tobacco smoking in Africa. Since taxes (hence prices) are part of the main measures suggested to decrease the demand for tobacco products, this study investigates how tobacco taxation and pricing influence the prevalence of smoking in 24 African countries.
Using panel data on 24 African countries sourced from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank databases for the period 2010 to 2016, this study employs the system Generalized Method of Moments (GMM) estimator to investigate the effects of tobacco taxation and pricing on the prevalence of smoking. The system GMM estimator is used due its ability to deal with potential endogeneity of tobacco taxation and pricing: the likelihood that the prevalence of smoking can influence tobacco taxation and pricing which may lead to biased estimates.
Tobacco taxation and pricing have negative significant effects on the prevalence of smoking among the selected countries after controlling for growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, urbanization, death rate and net inflows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Specifically, a percentage increase in tobacco price is found to decrease the prevalence of smoking by between 0.11 to 0.14%, while a percentage increase in tobacco tax decreases the prevalence of smoking by between 0.25 to 0.36%, all at 1% level of significance.
Since tobacco taxation and pricing are found to have negative significant effects on the prevalence of smoking, the implication is that, their use can be intensified by African policy makers towards achieving the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommended targets and hence decrease the prevalence of tobacco smoking in Africa. Doing so may therefore help in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3.5 (prevention and treatment of substance abuse), thereby reducing the colossal number of smoking attributable deaths.