Economic Impact of Tax on Cigarettes

In: Business and Management

Submitted By ghanii
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The demand for any commodity is defined as inelastic when the percentage change in quantity demanded is less than the percentage change in price. Goods that are used in everyday life are considered to have inelastic demand simply because of their frequent use and an increase in price only slightly alters the change in quantity demanded. Similarly the number of substitutes available tend to define the elasticity of demand and the proportion of income spent by a person on purchasing the product. The inelastic demand curve is as follows:

(Economics13 n.d.)
In case of cigarettes, the price elasticity measured for different countries by WHO in their study was less than -1 or inelastic and the addictive nature of cigarettes being cited as the main reason for it. The study however does point out that if the prices are increased for a longer period, the demand might in fact be elastic as people would be impacted more by the increase in prices. The research further suggested that the demand elasticity varies amongst poor and rich countries along with the population demographics. (Perucic, 2012)
In general when the prices are increased or taxes are raised on inelastic products, the beneficiary is often the producer or the government as the tax burden would be on the consumers. A tax on cigarettes would mean the consumers bearing a greater tax incidence which would in fact discourage them to spend more on tobacco products.

(Tax-inelastic-demand n.d.)
As seen in the graph above, a tax imposition on cigarettes would shift the supply curve on the left with the equilibrium quantity reducing from Q to Q 1. The inelastic demand would mean that the tax burden is borne by the consumers whereas the producers bear a small fraction of the tax applied.
The government while increasing taxes on cigarettes needs to ensure that all relevant substitutes for the…...

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