Improving the System of Tobacco Taxation in Albania-How to create an optimal policy for society?

Tirana - November 22nd, 2018
Venue: Tirana International Hotel

In the frame of the project “Accelerating Progress on Effective Tobacco Tax Policies in Low- and Middle-Income Countries“ , financed by University of Chicago at Illinois, Development Solutions Associates (DSA) organized a roundtable with stakeholders – representatives from the Institute of Public Health, General Directorate of Customs, General Directorate of Taxes, World Health Organization, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Journalists, Experts from the Health sector and economics students from Agricultural University of Tirana – to discuss the findings of the study: “Improving the system of tobacco taxation in Albania – How to create an optimal policy for society?”. The event was organized on November 22nd, 2018, at Tirana International Hotel.

The roundtable was opened by Mr. Drini Imami, who briefly introduced the project and the participants in the panel. The panel consisted of Ms. Nazira Artykova – WHO representative for Albania, Mr. Gazmend Bejtaj – WHO National Public Health Officer, Mr. Drini Imami – DSA, Mr. Klodjan Rama – DSA, and Ms. Aida Gjika – DSA.

The first speaker of the panel was the WHO representative in Albania, Ms. Artykova who presented the work done so far by WHO in partnership with Albanian government in relation to tobacco control policies. She highlighted the existing challenges and the need to enforce the tobacco control legislation throughout the country.

Afterwards Mr. Rama gave a more detailed overview of the project, presenting the objectives of the project, partner institutions, the area of research, some descriptive figures related to smoking prevalence in Albania, description of tax types and levels.

Ms. Gjika explained in detail the methodology and research results of the two models, macro and micro; the implications of the price elasticity of demand and incomes on tobacco consumption and budget revenues.

At the end, Mr. Bejtaj from WHO presented the current efforts that are being made in Albania in relation to implementation of Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.

Main issues

The participants of the roundtable showed high interest in the results and valued the study highly. The main issues raised concerned the illegal cigarette market; accurate data reporting, especially of imports; the effect of control policies on the results. A comment on the model pertained to lack of survey data after 2012 and a possible migration effect on consumer trends. It was stressed the need to carry out surveys for farmers and consumers in rural areas in order to detect the elasticity of demand for roll-on cigarettes and potentials shifts to low quality cigarettes.

Another important issue that was raised concerned the harmonization of tax policies across the region in order to minimize the illegal market. Representatives of General Directorate of Customs and General Directorate of Taxes also expressed a great interest in being provided with the legal framework of other Western Balkan countries related to tobacco control policies.

Paricipants, National roundtable organized by DSA,
November 22nd, Tirana