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Czech Republic and Poland approve increased tax on alcohol and tobacco products

Warsaw, Poland – The Czech Republic and Poland officially approved an increased tax on alcohol, cigarettes and other tobacco products, local media reported, that took effect yesterday.

Last week, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed into law a 10% hike in the excise tax applicable on alcoholic drinks and tobacco products – including electronic cigarettes.

Following the new tax, which should take effect today, a half-litre bottle of vodka will cost some 1.5 zloty more, while Polish smokers will have to spend around 1 zloty more for an average pack of cigarettes, Notes from Poland noted on Facebook.

The Polish government, led by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, backed the plan to increase the excise tax on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products in November – a move opposed by many in the industry. “We are surprised by the scope of the new increase”, reacted at the time Witold Wlodarczyk, head of the Polish Spirits Industry (ZPPPS), who added that they had not been consulted on the matter.

Poles are the second-biggest beer drinkers in the world, as well as the third-largest beer producers.

According to the government’s estimates, the new alcohol and tobacco tax rise should add up to 400 million € (1.7 billion zloty) to the state budget in 2020. In order to support local fruit production, cider and perry are excluded from the hike.

According to the World Health Organization, the average Pole consumes around 11.6 liters of pure alcohol per year – one of the highest levels in Europe.

Poland is not the only Central European country to follow that path. Neighbouring Czech Republic, known for being the biggest beer drinkers in the world, also approved a 13% excise tax rise on hard spirits and cigarettes for 2020 – excluding beer and wine – as well as a 23% tax increase on gambling activities.

According to the Czech government calculations, an average packet of cigarettes should be 5 Kc dearer this year, while tobacco companies claim consumers could have to pay an extra 12 Kc for their pack. Last year, the number of Czech smokers has continued to rise despite the implementation, in 2017, of a nation-wide ban on smoking in closed public spaces such as cafes, bars and restaurants.

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