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Egyptian Government Commended for Tobacco Tax Increase

Note: World Lung Foundation united with The Union North America. From January 2016, the combined organization is known as “Vital Strategies.”

(New York, NY) -World Lung Foundation today commended the Egyptian government on its decision to raise tobacco taxes on July 1. The 40% increase, the first since 1991, is a win-win strategy for Egypt, saving lives through reducing tobacco use and raising millions of pounds in additional revenue.

The measure is particularly progressive in that revenue raised from the new tax will be used to improve Egypt's public health system. Such action could become a model for a region where cigarette prices are very low and public health systems are under-funded.

“Today's tax increase on cigarettes is a major step forward for the health of Egypt's citizenry,” said Peter Baldini, Chief Executive Officer, World Lung Foundation. “We congratulate the Egyptian parliament, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, the Health Committee in Parliament and many other organizations that advocated for this critical measure.”

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in world, and claims more than 37,000 lives in Egypt each year, according to the Egyptian Ministry of Health. Raising tobacco taxes is one of the most important measures a government can take to reduce consumption and keep young people from starting to smoke. Studies show that every 10 percent increase in the price of cigarettes reduces youth smoking by 7 percent and overall cigarette consumption by approximately 4 percent. As a result of tax increase, tens of thousands of smokers will quit, millions of Egyptian pounds will be saved in long-term health care savings, and millions more in new revenue will be dedicated to the health of the Egyptian populace.

Even with new increase, however, Egypt's tobacco tax will still be well below the world average on tobacco products. World Lung Foundation urges Egypt's leaders to keep future tax increases on the public health agenda to achieve greater health and financial benefits.