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PublicationThe Political Economy of the 2016 Tobacco and Proposed Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax Increases in Colombia(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017-09) Garcia, Maria Isabel; Villar Uribe, Manuela; Iunes, RobertoIn 2008, Colombia joined the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which includes measures related to price and taxes designed to reduce supply and demand. By 2015, the overall prevalence of smokers in the country had decreased slightly but still reached 17 percent. The impact of tobacco on the mortality and quality of life of Colombians was estimated as a direct loss of more than 600,000 years of life and more than 26,000 deaths each year. The price of cigarettes in Colombia in 2015 was so low (approximately 2 US dollars per pack of 20 cigarettes), that it was higher than just one other country in Latin America and in the Caribbean. At the time, Colombia was contending with shrinking oil revenue (owing to a sharp drop in oil prices) and constantly rising public expenditure. In the health sector cost pressures stemmed, among other factors, from a change in the government's responsibility for health coverage in the subsidized system that covers the cost of health services for the country's lowest population segments. It was in this context that the government in early 2015 created a committee of experts responsible for proposing changes in the country's tax structure. This document describes the course of events that led to the phased adjustment of the tobacco tax approved by Congress in December 2016, with a view to aligning the price of cigarettes in Colombia with the Latin American average. Despite the failed attempt to introduce a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, the discussion was framed and will most likely be renewed in the future.