Healthy budgets and healthy people

September 23, 2019


September 23, 2019

Elizabeth Sukkar

Senior research manager

Elizabeth is a senior research manager in global health in the policy and insights team at Economist Impact. Prior to this, she was the managing editor and global healthcare editorial lead at Economist Intelligence Unit’s Thought Leadership division. She is the lead on global health projects that help build effective action to develop a sustainable health economy, with patients at the centre. She has led major research projects on universal healthcare, climate change and its impact on lung health, health literacy, self-care, sin taxes, patient-centred care and cancer care. She is also the lead on The Economist Group’s World Cancer Initiative which has led to the development of new thinking in cancer care and is a key moderator at the Economist Impact Events’ World Cancer Series. She has been a journalist and editor for more than 15 years, covering healthcare policy, R&D and science for medical journals and UK newspapers, including the British Medical Journal and the Guardian. Before joining The Economist Group, she was the deputy news editor at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, where she ran the news and analysis desk and was often called to comment about healthcare issues on BBC radio. She also managed an international team of journalists when she was the world editor of Informa’s Scrip Intelligence, a global publication on pharmaceutical and healthcare policy, where she won the Informa Journalist of Year award. Before moving into journalism, Elizabeth worked as a pharmacist in community, hospital and health authority settings, and she maintains her pharmacist registration. She is also a member of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and earned a bachelor of pharmacy degree at Monash University (Australia).


Finance ministry views on the importance, strengths and limitations of tobacco tax revenue and its uses

Healthy budgets and healthy people: Finance ministry views on the importance, strengths and limitations of tobacco tax revenue and its uses is a report written by The Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by the World Heart Federation (WHF), a global non-governmental umbrella organisation for scientific and medical groups, patient communities, and other societies interested in cardiovascular health. The content of this report is solely the responsibility of The Economist Intelligence Unit and the views expressed do not reflect those of the WHF.

This publication explores the beliefs and attitudes of senior finance ministry officials on every aspect of tobacco taxation, including its purpose, setting of appropriate rates, illicit trade, enforcement and implications for spending possibilities, including financing universal health coverage.

The research occurred in two phases. As background, The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted an extensive literature and data survey of tobacco taxation and related issues. It also looked at the possible links of such levies to spending, in particular on universal healthcare.

The second phase involved in-depth interviews with ten ministers, former ministers and senior officials at ten finance ministries spread across the world, as well as further in-depth desk research on matters arising from those discussions and the original literature survey.

Our thanks are due to the following interviewees for their time and insight (listed alphabetically):


  • Santiago Afonso, chief of advisers to the minister, Ministry of the Treasury, Argentina
  • Chris Axelson, chief director for economic tax analysis, National Treasury, South Africa
  • Hon. Mauricio Cárdenas, former minister, Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, Colombia
  • Yuriy Dzhygyr, deputy minister, Ministry of Finance, Ukraine
  • Terhi Järvikare, director-general of the tax department, Ministry of Finance, Finland
  • Idrissa Kanu, director of revenue and tax policy, Ministry of Finance, Sierra Leone
  • Ahmed Kouchouk, vice-minister of finance for fiscal policies and institutional reform, Ministry of Finance, Egypt
  • Hon. Cesar Purisima, former secretary (minister), Department of Finance, Philippines
  • Hon. Ryan Straughn, MP, minister, Ministry of Finance, Barbados
  • Syed Shabbar Zaidi, chairman, Federal Board of Revenue, Pakistan

The report was written by Paul Kielstra and edited by Elizabeth Sukkar of The Economist Intelligence Unit. The literature review and data survey were performed by Amanda Stucke, Anelia Boshnakova, Darshni Nagaria and Alan Lovell from the EIU Healthcare team.

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