Special Update: Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard

15 Dec 2020 - 22:30
Introducing... the first edition of the international Tobacconomics Cigarette Tax Scorecard assessing cigarette tax policies in over 170 countries.

About the Scorecard

As governments face the combined public health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, reforming cigarette tax policies provides a logical first step in raising much needed revenue. Each year, tobacco use kills over 8 million people worldwide and imposes enormous health and economic costs on society. The single most effective way to reduce the devastation caused by tobacco use is to significantly increase tobacco taxes and prices. The Scorecard grades countries on a five-point scale using WHO Global Tobacco Control Reports, providing policy makers with an actionable assessment of their country’s cigarette tax policy.

Key Findings

  • Most countries are failing to effectively tax cigarettes: nearly half scored less than 2 out of 5 points, and the global average is only 2.07.
  • The last 6 years have seen little improvement, and although scores improved in 89 countries, they became worse in 43 countries.


  • The top performing countries are Australia and New Zealand, which reflects their high, uniform specific cigarette excise taxes with regular increases that have significantly reduced the affordability of cigarettes.
  • The most improvement in cigarette tax policy occurred in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, and the Philippines.


Based in the Health Policy Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Tobacconomics team conducts economic research to shape global tobacco control policies, and we also partner with economic policy think tanks in low- and middle-income countries to build the local evidence base for more effective tobacco tax systems. UIC is a partner of the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.