Tobacco Consumption and Tax Evasion and Avoidance in Manufactured Cigarettes and Hand Rolled Tobacco in North Macedonia

Skopje – December 9th, 2020
Virtual Roundtable – a zoom meeting

Within the project "Accelerating Progress on Effective Tobacco Tax Policies in Low- and Middle-Income Countries", the research team of Analytica think tank - North Macedonia, organized a roundtable with the aim of presenting the results of the conducted research "Tobacco Consumption and Tax evasion and avoidance in manufactured cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco in North Macedonia”. The event was organized on December 9th, 2020 through ZOOM platform.

The roundtable was opened by Mr.Borce Trenovski presenting data for tobacco use on global level. Ms.Tamara Mijovic Spasova presented the main project objectives, activities performed in the region and the goals of the project. Research results for North Macedonia were presented by Tamara M.Spasova, Kristijan Kozeski, Bojana M. Hristovska and Natasha Trajkova.

The roundtable was attended by a total of 32 participants from different institutions – Deputy Minister of Agriculture, representatives from the Institute of Public Health, Centre for public health, Ministry of Finance, Customs Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and social policy, WHO office in Skopje, Secretariat for European Affairs, General Secretariat of the Government, governmental body responsible for FCTC, Agency for youth and sport, National agency for European educational programmes and mobility, representatives of CSOs sector. Representatives of the official institutions had constructive and fruitful dialogue and expressed high interest in the results of the study.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture expressed exceptional interest in the research data and pointed out that the ministry is making significant efforts to find a strategy that will slowly reduce tobacco production in the country, but at the same time is looking for ways to replace tobacco production with other possible plants production. Exactly for this, he indicated that he would like to hold a meeting with Analytica team where they would discuss these matters in more detail.

Director for excise from Customs Administration office expressed high interest about tax evasion data regarding creation of effective tobacco control policy. The main issues raised were the illegal cigarette market; missing fine-cut tobacco data, growing illegal market for fine-cut tobacco, availability of exact data and need for balanced national tobacco control policy. In addition, he addressed the need for regional excise policy harmonization as a toll for minimizing the black market. At the end he informed that he would organize an additional meeting in the next weeks with Analytica and Ministry of Finance to discuss the feasibility of applying our research to their policy making.

Representatives from the health sector stated they were working closely on the topic and had a good knowledge of the subject and their general conclusion was that primarily in the country there is lack of solid research data. They further stated that more smoking cessation campaigns were needed as one of the more effective ways for lowering consumption of cigarettes. The most important issue they raised is that they expressed the need for conducting this type of survey on tobacco use, on a regular basis, ie every year.

Special interest for cooperation was expressed by the representatives of the Secretariat for European Affairs, in charge of harmonization of the legislation, specifically the Law on Excise Duties.
In general all participants expressed great motivation for future cooperation on this matter.
All this said, the main issues raised by the stakeholders were the availability of exact, reliable and real time data, missing fine-cut tobacco data, growing illegal market for fine-cut tobacco; promotion of research results, the need for a balanced national tobacco control policy and the need for conducting this type of survey on tobacco use, on a regular basis, ie every year.

Presentation of the event - download here