Roundtable "Improvement of tobacco taxation policy in Serbia"

Venue: Belgrade Art Hotel, Belgrade

The Roundtable on "Improvement of tobacco taxation policy in Serbia" was organized in Belgrade on November 18, 2019. Around 20 researchers, policy makers, and representatives of the civil society took participation in this event. Roundtable was organised by the Institute of Economic Sciences, within the research project "Accelerating Progress on Effective Tobacco Tax Policies in Low and Middle-Income Countries", led by the University of Illinois, Chicago and funded the Bloomberg Philanthropies' Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.

WHO office chief in Serbia, Dr. Marijan Ivanusa, Head of the National office for smoking prevention, Dr. Biljana Kilibarda, and President of the Serbian National Committee for Tobacco Control, Dr. Srmena Krstev addressed the audience during the first session. Within the second session IES researchers presented main findings of the conducted research.

The aim of the roundtable was to inform interested stakeholders about the obtained research findings and facilitate discussion on the most efficient policy options for the reduction of tobacco use in Serbia, including use of the tax instruments. Research revealed that changes in taxation policy are required in order to tackle the issue of high consumption of tobacco products that have numerous adverse effects on the Serbian society.

Researchers of the Institute of Economic Sciences argued that abandoning the existing excise calendar and applying more dynamic increase of the specific excise would result in reduction of the tobacco consumption, increase of the fiscal revenues and positive redistribution effects reflected in lower expenditures for cigarettes of the low-income households.

Results of the discussion indicate that Government should invest more efforts in applying both financial and non-financial incentives for reduction of tobacco use. This refers to adoption of the new Strategy for tobacco control, adjustment of the current taxation policy with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the Framework of Tobacco Control that Serbia ratified and closer cooperation of stakeholders in creating effective tobacco control policy, primarily Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health.