Ministry of Health Recommends Tax Increase On Cigarettes

The Ministry of Health calls on the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to increase the tax on the importation of cigarettes in order to reduce the number of people who smoke, especially young people.

According to the Ministry of Health General Director Jose Reis Magno, Timor-Leste is a member of the International Convention On Tobacco Control but it was difficult to stop people smoking in public places as it takes a long time to change people’s attitudes.

“We are thinking of creating a policy. It’s difficult to forbid people from smoking but it’s important to increase the tax on importing cigarettes, as this should be high,” said General Director Magno in his office in Kaikoli, Dili.

He recognized that a country should have imports but it was important to protect the health of the new generation from smoking.

He added the Ministry of Health continued to distribute information through campaigns, speeches and other methods so the community understand cigarettes are not good for people’s health.

He also said they raised awareness through government institutions and leaders, who say in open forums that it’s bad to smoke and set an example for younger generations.

Meanwhile Member of National Parliament Ilda Maria da Conceicao said it was the government’s obligation to increase the tax on the importation of cigarettes, as Timor-Leste ratified the international convention.

She added this policy was good to reduce the number of people who smoke cigarettes, as a lot of minors smoke everyday because they are able to buy them.

“I think it’s better to buy food than spend money on cigarettes.”

On the other hand, Head of Department for Risk Management and Compliances Lourenco Carvalho said the tax on tobacco was the same as other selective taxes, with a price of $19 per kilogram.

He said for Timor-Leste a high import tax was like a weapon, and if there’s a tax of 200% people would not buy weapons, only the government could.

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