Expanding health taxation to other unhealthy behaviours and harmful activities

Santos, Andreia Costa and Hérick de Sá, Thiago and Hinsch, Michael Oliver and Sanchez Triana, Ernesto and Lauer, Jeremy A; Lauer, Jeremy A and Sassi, Franco and Soucat, Agnès and Vigo, Angeli, eds. (2023) Expanding health taxation to other unhealthy behaviours and harmful activities. In: Health Taxes. World Scientific, Singapore, pp. 225-263. ISBN 9781800612396 (https://doi.org/10.1142/9781800612396_0008)

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The use of taxation to improve public health has been successful in tackling tobacco and alcohol, with positive and direct effect on health outcomes. However, the taxation of other unhealthy behaviours and activities negatively affecting health (e.g. the increased use of cars) has not yet been explored for the promotion of public health and societal well-being, in particular for reducing premature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which account for 70% of global deaths. Taxation can be expanded to unhealthy behaviours and activities affecting individuals’ health and wellbeing, in the pursuit of public health goals. For unhealthy behaviours and some other activities, taxation might be defined at local levels of government, as a way to tackle local health problems. Local governments should be actively collaborating with other levels of government (e.g. federal level), to identify taxation-based solutions for health problems that directly affect their jurisdiction. We use the examples of air pollution, land use, gambling and farming practices to illustrate the challenges facing local authorities, and opportunities to deal with them through taxation and health promotion, particularly in tackling NCDs.