SEATCA - Gates funding for research on improving tobacco control tax systems..

March 4, 2010 - The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA) will provide Southeast Asian policymakers with research-based evidence on improving tax systems for tobacco control in five targeted countries.

The research will be funded by a five-year US$7 million (RM23.7 million) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will focus on tobacco tax control in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Director of the Bangkok-based SEATCA, Bungon Ritthiphakdee said higher taxes on tobacco led to higher prices for tobacco products, which immediately discouraged non-smokers from starting and current smokers from continuing with their harmful habit.

"By 2014, we hope to see Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) governments having strengthened their tobacco tax systems. This would increase revenues from tobacco taxes while simultaneously having reduced tobacco consumption, thereby improving public health," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Asean is home to almost 574 million people and almost 31 per cent (about 125.8 million) of the adult population are smokers which is equivalent to about 10 per cent of the world's smoking population.

The region also accounts for almost 10 percent of smoking related deaths worldwide.

Reference: Tobacco Tax Control Project In Five Southeast Asian Countries, (Malaysian National News Agency), 3/2/2010.

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