Smoking Prevalence and Tobacco Tax Evasion in Bosnia and Herzegovina: State and Challenges

Venue: Online (Banja Luka)

Date: 30.11.2020

In 2019, the overall smoking prevalence among adults in BiH was quite high (41.1 percent), while daily smoking prevalence was 40.0 percent. These are some of the research results presented at the online event titled “Smoking prevalence and tobacco tax evasion in B&H: state and challenges“ held on 30 November 2020, via Zoom platform. The aim of the roundtable was to present the results of the research conducted in 2020 for Bosnia and Herzegovina within research project “Accelerating Progress on Effective Tobacco Tax Policies in Low and Middle Income Countries” facilitating discussion on potential systemic changes in tobacco taxation.

The roundtable was attended by a total of 15 participants from 7 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, the round table was attended by representatives of the Institute of Economic Sciences from Belgrade as the main project coordinator, representatives of the Indirect Taxation Authority of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Srpska, Fiscal Council of the Republic of Srpska, Public Health Institute of the Federation of B&H and PROI non-governmental organization.

The round table was opened by Jovan Zubović from the Institute of Economic Sciences (IES) from Belgrade, who presented the main project objectives, activities performed in the region and it’s goals in 2019 and 2020. The results of the University of Banja Luka research team were presented by Ljubiša Mićić, researcher, Anđela Pepić, project director, Borislav Vukojević, researcher and Dragan Gligorić, research team leader and senior researcher. The research results show that more than 90 percent of adults in BiH are still not inclined to use tobacco products other than MC and HR cigarettes. A contributing factor to this high smoking prevalence (41.1 percent) is the lower prices of tobacco products in BiH compared to the EU average, which was 4.89 EUR in 2018. According to this research, the average price paid per pack of 20 sticks of MC was 2.50 EUR in 2019, and the mean price paid for 20 sticks of HR cigarettes was 1.48 EUR. Furthermore, the majority of adult smokers (54.6 percent) did not change their smoking habits after the last price increase, and the percentage of those who temporarily quit smoking is quite low (1.8 percent), which may indicate the level of tobacco prices is still not high enough to incentivize cessation. However, results also show that one in three current smokers who have tried to quit smoking claim that increased cigarette price was a key reason for quitting, which demonstrates that tobacco prices play an important role in cessation motivation. Additionally, price increases are also the second most important reason for reducing smoking intensity, with 37.2 percent of adults who smoke less today than in the past citing it as the reason why they smoke less. The analysis also showed that 33.1 percent of tobacco consumption in BiH is illicit, which is quite high.

Presentations were followed by discussion that was very constructive, providing the input from key stakeholders on necessity of further collaboration in research and dissemination of reseach results, and also helping the project team to enhance policy relevance of the performed research.

Presentation of the event - download here

Video of the event - download here