NATC-TL and CNJTL call on parliament to approve Govt’s policy on raising tobacco taxes

NATC-TL and CNJTL call on parliament to approve Govt’s policy on raising tobacco taxes


DILI, 14 november 2022 (TATOLI) – The National Alliance for Tobacco Control in Timor-Leste (NATC-TL), together with the Timor-Leste National Youth Council (CNJTL), and university students called on the National Parliament to approve the government’s proposed policy to increase tobacco taxes from US$50 to US$100 per kilogram.

Both organizations and university students made the call at a press conference held at the CNJTL office, in Farol Dili.

“We recommend that the National Parliament must approve the Government’s policy of increasing tobacco taxes from US$50 to US$100 per kg. According to our survey, despite last year’s tax of US$50 per kg, people can still buy cigarettes because the current prices are still cheaper, ranging from US$1.75 to US$2.00 per pack,” the NATC-TL Executive Director, Sancho Fernandes, told reporters in Farol, Dili.

Timorese are among the highest tobacco users in the world. Among the adults, 71% males and 29 percent females use tobacco in any form – smoked (e.g. cigarettes) and/or smokeless (e.g. Songhe). Nine out of 10 adults are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Non-Communicable Diseases including cardiovascular diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are among the top ten causes of mortality. Timor-Leste is among the TB high-burden countries.

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (2019) conducted among school children aged 13-15 years old, shows an overall alarmingly high tobacco prevalence of 30.9 percent among adolescents, 42 percent among boys, and 21% among girls. 67 percent of students are exposed to second-hand smoke at home. Nearly 71 percent were exposed to tobacco smoke at public places. Youth have easy access to cigarettes.

Approximately 63 percent of smokers bought cigarettes from a store, shop, street vendor, or kiosk. Around 49 percent were not prevented from purchasing, despite being minors. The Global Youth Tobacco Survey (2019) also had some encouraging indications. The overall prevalence of tobacco product use has decreased from 42.4 percent in 2013 to 30.9 percent in 2019, and the overall prevalence of current cigarette smokers also decreased from 35 percent in 2013 to 22.5 percent in 2019.

Fernandes said that over 270,000 of the Timorese population smoke cigarettes every day, the majority of whom are young people between 13 and 35 years old.

Cigarette smoking cost Timor-Leste more than US$64 million every year. Tobacco kills more than 700 Timorese people each year.

“If Timor-Leste can increase tobacco taxes to US$100, it would help prevent the health consequences of tobacco use among young people in the country,” Fernandes said.

Last week, NATC-TL also called on the Ministry of Health (MoH) to establish a National Tobacco Control Council, involving representatives from all ministries to combat the importation of illicit cigarettes into Timor-Leste.

According to a survey by NATC-TL, about 95% of cigarettes are sold loose and cost only 25 cents.

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Rafy Belo


Leave a Reply

error: Content is protected !!