Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has refused to back a raise of tobacco taxes to discourage smoking, the Israel Cancer Association has alleged, The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday.
Kahlon’s communications adviser Omri Harushi explained the minister’s position as part of an overall policy on taxes, saying that he has “vowed not to raise taxes,” Harushi said.
ICA chairman and senior oncologist Prof. Eliezer Robinson and director-general Miri Ziv sent a letter of complaint to Kahlon, which said that he had ignored their requests for comment on their proposals. In addition to a general increase in cigarette taxes, the ICA is lobbying for low-cost rolling tobacco, which has gained in popularity, to be taxed at the same rate as conventional cigarettes.
Kahlon has been promoting measures to reduce the cost-of-living for the average Israeli, and the ICA was hopeful he would see their proposals as being in line with the policy.
The ICA points out that people in low socioeconomic groups are most likely to smoke, and that making tobacco cheap widens the health and social gaps between the well-off and the poor.