Round Table on the Use of Tobacco Products and Smoking Control Policy Measures

Institute for socio-economic analysis (ISEA) organized a Round table with its partners on the topic "The importance of tax policy for reducing the use of tobacco products in Montenegro", that was held on 16 December 2022. The meeting was an opportunity for the participants to discuss the current situation when it comes to tax policies, as well as ways to include ISEA research recommendations in relevant documents and overall tobacco control policies.

ISEA researchers presented to partners from state institutions and the civil sector the results of studies they conducted in the previous period, primarily on the topics "Impact of tobacco spending on intra-household resource allocation in Montenegro" and "Distributional Impacts of Tobacco Tax in Montenegro". The main focus was on the crowding-out effect of tobacco use, which showed that households spend less money on basic necessities due to relatively high expenditures on cigarettes. Results showed that smokers are more prone to consume non-healthy products, such as alcohol, sugary drinks and bars.

The Round table was attended by all important stakeholders whose activities are related to tobacco taxation policy and other measures concerning tobacco consumption in Montenegro (Ministry of Finance, Tobacco Agency, statistical office, civil sector). After the presented results, the participants in the discussion agreed that such research was very useful, because it provided a basis for action and adoption of policies and strategies based on scientific results. Representatives from Ministry of Finance discussed on future measures regarding excise tax policy, which imply the acceleration of excise tax calendar in 2023, as well as the introduction of new products to be taxed (sugary drinks, sweets) in the forthcoming Law on Excise tax Amendments. This is why they welcomed and confirmed the importance of ISEA research, indicating that tobacco spending crowds-in different non-productive products. The proposed amendments in Law of Tobacco are related to the complete ban of selling tobacco products online. Novel products (such as snus) are yet to be included in regulation. Civil sector stressed out that more intensive cooperation between think-thanks is needed, in sense of stronger promotion and joint actions toward policy makers.

Plans related to research and other activities for the next year were also introduced, and useful suggestions were received on improving the same. Stakeholders once more confirmed the necessity of more efficient multisector cooperation and ISEA being continuously a trusted source for future evidence based policy making.