In an effort to discourage tobacco consumption, the De Croo government has announced it plans to increase excise duties on tobacco in all remaining years of the legislature, resulting in a higher price for the consumer.
From 2021 a pack of 20 cigarettes - currently costing €6.80 - will cost €7.50, while the price for 50 grams of loose tobacco rise from €9.70 to €11.17.
Also in the following years - 2022, 2023 and 2024 - the excise duty on tobacco will be increased. The price increase is stated in the program law that Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) submitted to the Chamber.
Excise tax increases have previously been found to have a significant effect on the reduction of smoking prevalence and the number of averted smoking-attributable deaths, as is the aim of the move. A 2016 study of the Asia-Pacific region found that Middle- and upper-middle income countries would be most affected by high-taxation policies on such products.
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"The increase in excise duties is part of the government's proactive policy to discourage the appeal of tobacco consumption", said Van Peteghem in a press release. In 2018, 19% of the Belgian population were smokers, 15% were daily smokers (including 4.7% 'heavy smokers 'smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day) and 4% were occasional smokers. These stats represent a 40% decrease in daily smokers between 1997 and 2018, with 52% less heavy smokers compared to 1997.
At the time of the results, daily smoking was also more prevalent in Wallonia (18%) than in Brussels (16%) and in Flanders (13%).
The Brussels Times