Venue: University of Banja Luka, Banja Luka
The estimated total economic burden of tobacco consumption in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019 is between 719 – 974 million BAM (around 2.36% of GDP). These are some of the research results presented at the event organized by the University of Banja Luka (UNIBL) team held on April 26, 2022 on the topic „Tobacco Control Policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their Effects“. The event was dedicated to the presentation of the research results from 2021 and previous years, followed by a moderated discussion.
The event was attended by a total of 18 participants from 10 different institutions. Beside the representatives of the research team of the University of Banja Luka (Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer Centre - ETTC , Faculty of Economics and Faculty of Political Sciences) as project partners from B&H, and University of Illinois in Chicago, the round table was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Srpska, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of the Republic of Srpska, Fiscal Council of the Republic of Srpska, Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Health Insurance Fund of the Republic of Srpska, Srpska Medical Students International Committee (SAMSIC) NGO established by Medical Faculty students, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Banja Luka, PROI non-governmental organization and of the Institute of Economic Sciences from Belgrade.
The event was opened by an introduction and presentation on the main objectives of the “Accelerating Progress on Effective Tobacco Tax Policies in Low and Middle Income Countries” research project and its goals, provided by Violeta Vulović from University of Illinois in Chicago. The results of the University of Banja Luka research team were presented by Dragan Gligorić, research team leader, Ljubiša Mićić, researcher and Dragana Preradović Kulovac, researcher. The research results on the economic costs of smoking in Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the data available for 2019 show that the direct costs of smoking are between 557 – 766 million BAM. The indirect costs of smoking cover the indirect morbidity costs valued between 51 – 67 million BAM and indirect mortality costs of smoking valued between 111 – 141 million BAM. Research team leader, Dragan Gligorić emphasized that the percentage of the GDP that is lost due to the economic costs of smoking in B&H could be saved by improvement of the tobacco control policies' implementation in the country.
Presentation of the research results continued with recapitulation of the research results from the preceding years of the project implementation. Ljubiša Mićić, researcher, briefly presented the research results from 2019 emphasizing how the prices and taxes influence smoking prevalence in B&H. He concluded that the cigarette prices are one of the major factors influencing the smokers to quit smoking. Dragana Preradović Kulovac, researcher, presented the main results from the research on tax evasion in Bosnia and Herzegovina stating that the tax evasion in Republic of Srpska was 30,9 percent and in Federation of B&H 35,6 percent.
Finally, the University of Banja Luka team invited the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the UNIBL, prof. Ranko Škrbić as guest presenter. He presented the results of the research conducted by a research team he was a member of, focusing on the smoking prevalence among students at the UNIBL. He emphasized that there is a high smoking prevalence among the 1200 students surveyed in their study amounts to 34.1 percent. Prof. Škrbić pointed out that there is a high need for adoption of the proper tobacco control policies and law that would ban smoking in order to decrease the use of tobacco products, especially having in mind that smoking presents one of the major causes of cardiovascular diseases.
Presentations were followed by a moderated discussion during which the participants expressed that the research results presented at the event are quite important for policy advice. Furthermore, the participants emphasized that there is a need for a more coordinated approach towards consistent and effective tobacco control policies and their implementation that would engage all stakeholders.