Cost of tobacco could be set to rise

A study presented by the Health Ministry on Wednesday suggested that a rise in tobacco prices could contribute toward reducing the number of smokers in Greece ?- where a lackluster anti-smoking campaign has failed to yield the expected results ?- while sources suggest that the ministry is also exploring the idea of levying a special tobacco tax to benefit the country?s biggest healthcare provider.

The ministry?s general secretary for public health, Christina Papanikolaou, also announced the re-establishment of a national anti-smoking committee to be headed by Panagiotis Behrakis, a Harvard University professor and lung specialist.

Behrakis presented the study, which was compiled by a group of economists specializing in the health sector. It suggests that a price hike in tobacco products by 2 euros would increase the state?s revenues from tobacco taxes by 1.2 billion euros and would also lead to a reduction in Greece?s adult smokers by some 380,000 people.

Papanikolaou meanwhile cited a recent study which found that 71 percent of Greeks would agree to a rise in tobacco prices if this were to benefit the public healthcare system. The official went on to propose that a special tax could also be introduced on tobacco products which would go toward the National Organization for Healthcare Provision (EOPYY) and other social security funds.

Kathimerini understands that the Health Ministry is also pondering measures to restrict the numbers of outlets where tobacco products are sold as well as to increase inspections at outlets to ensure that cigarettes and other tobacco products are not sold to minors.

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