Expanding health taxation to other unhealthy behaviours and harmful activities

Andreia Costa Santos, Thiago Hérick de Sá, Michael Oliver Hinsch, Ernesto Sanchez Triana, Jeremy A Lauer

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealth Taxes
Subtitle of host publicationPolicy and Practice
EditorsJeremy A Lauer, Franco Sassi, Agnès Soucat, Angeli Vigo
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9781800612396
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2023


  • health taxation
  • public health
  • non-communicable disease


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