In een tweede bijdrage van de Canadese ex-antirokenactivist Luc Martial gaat deze in op de manier waarop in Canada met accijnsverhogingen werd omgegaan.
Ondanks dat een eerste buitenmatige accijnsverhoging in de tachtiger jaren (170% verhoging in 10 jaar) catastrofale gevolgen had voor de economie, pleiten de Canadese anti’s van vandaag nog steeds voor rigoreuze verhogingen.
As a long-standing and still very much committed tobacco control professional in Canada, I can appreciate the importance of tobacco tax policy within any comprehensive tobacco control framework. During my years with one of the world’s most successful advocacy groups – the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association of Canada (NSRA) – in the early 1990s, I actively researched and argued for the need to equalize tax rates among products and provinces, while effectively responding to ever-changing market conditions. The idea that pricing could play an important role in reducing minors’ access to tobacco products greatly justified for me the need to explore and make use of emerging theory on the subject. It still does.
My interest and knowledge of the issues at hand would be called upon in 2000, as a representative to the federal government’s interdepartmental working group on tobacco taxation. Unfortunately, my involvement in this working group would prove a rude awakening, as it became increasingly clear that the research and policy foundation necessary for accountable public policy on tobacco taxation simply did not exist at that time. Anti-tobacco rhetoric aside, I would still argue that Canadian governments — and the vast majority of sponsoring health groups — remain poorly equipped to understand, develop and effectively manage sound tobacco tax policy in Canada.
While I eagerly await the day when true debate on this issue will materialize, my peripherally addressing vocal tobacco taxation advocates such as Galbraith, Lewit, Mieir, Chapman, Warner and Townsend would add little value at this time. The real question is not whether tobacco taxes can effectively impact consumption— they can, to a certain point. The real issue is, to what extent is any taxation structure and/or level justified? And is this fair and accountable to all stakeholders? In my opinion, Canada long ago moved away from using tobacco tax policy to abusing it.