Pattaya government and business leaders joined a national rally cry to increase cigarette taxes on World Tobacco Day in Thailand.
Pattaya City Hall and the Ministry of Public Health sponsored a lecture May 31 on the negative effects of smoking, emphasizing both the health and environmental costs of tobacco.
Williawan Phooluenglue, chief of the Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Office at the Pattaya Public Health Department, said 350,478 trees are felled each year to produce cigarettes, yet only 16 percent of the lumber is used to create paper.
Dusit Thani Hotel General Manager Chatchawan Supachayanont, whilst preparing for his hotel’s bike ride, suggests that if tobacco taxes were increased by 5 percent in 22 low-income countries, governments would have an extra $1.4 billion to spend.
She called on the government to raise Thailand’s ad valorem cigarette tax from 87 percent to at least 90 percent. The tax was last raised in 2012 and has increased from 55 percent in 1992.
A similar call for higher “sin taxes” on cigarettes came from the Dusit Thani Hotel, which staged its own World No Tobacco Day event to educate and reward employees.
General Manager Chatchawan Supachayanont and Prawet Akhnimat, head of the hotel’s environmental committee said that if tobacco taxes were increased by 5 percent in 22 low-income countries, governments would have an extra $1.4 billion to spend.
The hotel also presented certificates to four employees who successfully kicked the habit in 2013: security guard Sayan Janthakloi, kitchen worker Daoruang Janlim and receptionist Phiphat Waenkae and kitchen worker Prajak Kaewphila.
Higher tobacco taxes was the theme of the worldwide No Tobacco Day, which is organized by the World Health Organization. WHO said tobacco will kill almost 1 billion people by the end of this century if no action is taken. Eighty percent of those deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries.
WHO officials said a global 50 percent increase in taxes on cigarettes would lead to 49 million fewer smokers and save 11 million lives. It also would give governments an extra $101 billion to spend.
In Thailand, Dr. Narong Sahametapat, Permanent Secretary for Public Health, said on World No Tobacco Day that statistics compiled in 2009 showed that more than 50,000 Thais succumbed to diseases caused by smoking.
As a result, the permanent secretary called on related agencies to place more emphasis on the issue and impose higher taxes on tobacco in order to cut down the number of smoking activities. He said fewer people would die if the price of tobacco was higher.