BMJ Global Health
Globally, a growing burden of morbidity and mortality is attributable to lifestyle behaviours, and in particular to the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). In low-income and middle-income countries, this increased disease burden falls on already encumbered and resource-constrained healthcare systems. Fiscal policies, specifically taxation, can lower consumption of tobacco, alcohol and SSB while raising government revenues.
We simulated the health and economic effects of taxing cigarettes, alcohol and SSB over 50 years for 30–79 years old populations using separate mathematical models for each commodity that incorporated country-level epidemiological, demographic and consumption data. Based on data availability, national-level health effects of higher tobacco, alcohol and SSB taxes were simulated in 141, 166 and 176 countries, respectively, which represented 92%, 97% and 95% of the global population, respectively. Economic effects for tobacco, alcohol and SSB were estimated for countries representing 91%, 43% and 83% of the global population, respectively. These estimates were extrapolated to the global level by matching countries according to income level.
Over 50 years, taxes that raise the retail price of tobacco, alcoholic beverages and SSB by 20% could result in a global gain of 160.7 million (95% uncertainty interval (UI): 96.3 to 225.2 million), 227.4 million (UI: 161.2 to 293.6 million) and 24.3 million (UI: 15.7 to 35.4 million) additional life years, respectively.
Excise tax increases on tobacco, alcohol and SSB can produce substantial health gains by reducing premature mortality while raising government revenues, which could be used to increase public health funding.