Many possible factors behind rise in tobacco revenues

Many possible factors behind rise in tobacco revenues

Ms Liu I-Chun ("Smoking data doesn't square with tobacco figures"; June 8) asked why tobacco duty revenue increased although the smoking prevalence rate has stabilised over the last five years.

The smoking prevalence rate refers to the percentage of citizens and permanent residents who are daily smokers, and the data is collected once every six years through the National Health Surveillance Survey (NHSS).

The rate has stabilised from 13.6 per cent in 2007 to 13.3 per cent last year. The NHSS 2013 results were based on a large representative sample of 8,978 Singapore residents interviewed by trained field workers in their homes.

Tobacco duty revenues increased from $932 million in FY2009 to $1.0425 billion in FY2013. There are many factors that could explain the increase in tobacco duty revenues, notwithstanding the stabilisation in smoking prevalence rates in recent years.

These include population growth, average tobacco consumption per smoker, purchases by tourists and non-residents, and the increase in taxes for non-cigarette tobacco products such as beedies and ang hoon from 2011 to last year.

Intensified enforcement efforts and public education to curb the supply and demand for contraband cigarettes may have also resulted in the purchase of more duty-paid cigarettes.

We agree with Ms Liu that we should discourage smoking among Singaporeans. Hence, we are increasing efforts to reduce smoking rates further by reducing the number of young people who take up smoking, while encouraging current smokers to quit.

Shyamala Thilagaratnam (Dr)

Director, Preventive Health Programmes Division

Health Promotion Board

This article was first published on july 06, 2014.
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