Reporters and tobacco industry observers were given the boot from a World Health Organization meeting on instituting an international tobacco tax aimed at suppressing tobacco use and addressing tobacco bootlegging.
The World Health Organization — the U.N.’s public health policy arm — kicked the public and the media out of a discussion of a proposed international tobacco tax during its biennial tobacco control meeting.
The WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is meeting this week in the South Korean capital of Seoul, began on a high note. The convention’s member countries on Monday ratified an agreement to fight smuggled and pirated tobacco products.
That goodwill was quickly destroyed when delegates of the member countries of the conference stripped the media of the ability to cover the meeting and escorted public onlookers from the premises. The decision to meet behind closed doors occurred when a discussion began about efforts to decrease tobacco use by increasing the price of tobacco products.
As the session began, the session’s chairwoman expressed concern that there was a “large presence” of tobacco growers and industry representatives in the public gallery.
The WHO is considering either a 70% flat excise tax on tobacco, or a $0.05/pack tax on cigarettes sold in “first world” countries.
The likely result of further tax hikes on tobacco is more black market tobacco. Which is always the result when the government institutes prohibitionist policies.
Markets are dynamic. Regulations are static.