THE Spanish health ministry are considering imposing a new levy on cigarettes and tobacco in an attempt to reduce the number of smokers nationwide.
The consideration comes as part of an initiative known as the Comprehensive Plan for the Prevention and Control of Smoking which health authorities hope to approve this year.
Spain currently has some of the cheapest cigarettes in Europe, with an average packet of 20 cigarettes costing just €4.53, according to a 2022 study.
An equivalent packet of cigarettes in the UK would cost at least €10.26 due to a tobacco duty of €7.41 plus 16.5% of the retail price.
A 2019 study from the European Commission showed Spain to have one of the highest proportions of smokers across Europe.
Almost 20% of all Spaniards aged 15 or over smoke, a quarter of whom go through a packet of 20 each day.
Health experts hope that increasing levies on tobacco will curb consumption levels, particularly amongst the young, and encourage current smokers to quit.
Scientists have long lobbied for increased prices with the expectation that it would reduce smoking levels and, therefore, improve the general health of the population.
A study published in the European Journal of Public Health in 2022 estimated that between 1990 and 2018, tobacco use caused 1,717,150 deaths in Spain.
However, officials from the Spanish Ministry of Health were keen to stress that any additional levies would require support from the Ministry of Finance.
The tobacco industry remains highly lucrative – the sale of tobacco products in 2022 generated over €12 billion.