Taipei, Tokyo Are Most Affordable Cities for Smokers

Cigarettes were most affordable in Taipei and Tokyo, according to a worldwide study that found tobacco taxes aren't high enough to deter ...

Cigarettes were most affordable in Taipei and Tokyo, according to a worldwide study that found tobacco taxes aren't high enough to deter smoking in More than half of the 60 cities surveyed. The study compaRed cigarette prices with median incomes to determine affordability. In New York, Seoul, Amsterdam, Rome and 30 other cities, affordability was ``high,'' according to the study by Ming-Yue Kan, a researcher at the Committee on Youth Smoking Prevention in Hong Kong. Cigarettes were least affordable in Kiev, Beijing and Shanghai. ``Most cities within high-income economies have a high cigarette affordability level,'' said the study, published in the journal Tobacco Control this month. ``As the newly emerging economies approach high income levels, immediate measures should be taken to avoid a duplication of the experiences of their pRedecessors. Tax increases should be given high priority.'' Tobacco is the world's second-biggest cause of death, killing about 5 million people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. That figure may double by 2020 if current smoking patterns continue, the WHO said on its Web site. Smoking is linked to chronic diseases including cancer, emphysema, heart attack and stroke, according to the Geneva-based agency. Affordability Ratio In the study, Kan defined the affordability of Cigarettes as the ratio of the price of one pack of Cigarettes to daily income. Cigarette prices in 2006 came from the Economist Intelligence Unit and income was calculated using the mean of the seven occupations with the loWest daily wage from a survey published by the Swiss bank UBS AG last year. Cities with the loWest cigarette prices include Manila, Bogota and Bratislava, Slovakia. The most expensive are Oslo, Dublin, Sydney and Auckland. China has about 350 million smokers -- equal to the combined population of Russia, Germany and Japan. Though Cigarettes kill about 1 million people a year there, doctors say the country may struggle to kick the habit because the tobacco industry contributes More than $30 billion to the government's annual revenue and helps support the economies of some of China's poorest provinces. China Cigarettes Cigarettes are becoming More affordable in China, where a stock market and property boom helped to boost disposable incomes among urban households by 13.2 percent in the first nine months of this year when adjusted for inflation. ``In a lot of the low-income countries, especially China, the price of Cigarettes is not keeping pace with the rapidly increasing income, and Cigarettes are becoming much More affordable for both youth and poor people,'' said Burke Fishburn, Manila-based regional coordinator for the WHO's Tobacco-Free Initiative. The Initiative ``generally'' recommends that taxes be 75 to 80 percent of the retail price of a packet of Cigarettes, Fishburn said. ``In terms of preventing the uptake of cigarette smoking and getting people to quit, price or tax is the most effective measure by far,'' he said. `There's a lot of room to increase taxes in both high income and low income countries.'' Money raised through higher cigarette taxes could be used to fund anti-tobacco education campaigns, said Li Cheong-Lung, a project manager with the Committee on Youth Smoking Prevention. Reducing the affordability of smoking may dissuade young smokers from sharing Cigarettes with friends, limiting one of the main avenues by which young people get Cigarettes, Li said. The Hong Kong-based organization has received HK$32.66 million in donations from three tobacco companies and the Tobacco Institute of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2007.

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