The Tobacco Curse: Why Belarus Smokes And Smuggles Cigarettes
More than 65% of Belarusian university and high school students smoke, according to a recent estimate by the Ministry of Health.
While smoking is declining across Europe, a growing number of young Belarusians are turning to cigarettes due to lax regulation and low prices. Cheap cigarettes from Belarus are also being smuggled into Western Europe, involving thousands of Belarusians in criminal activities.
Why do cigarettes in Belarus remain among the cheapest in Europe?
Raising the cost of tobacco products – by levying an excise tax on consumers – is a simple and effective measure to combat smoking among both youth and adults.
A tobacco tax could produce economic as well as social and health benefits. At the end of the day, though, the Belarusian government is reluctant to tax tobacco because of the profits it reaps from manufacturing and exporting tobacco products.
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