U.N. Approves Increased Global Tobacco Tax During Secret Session

The U.N.’s World Health Organization on Tuesday approved a measure committing countries around the world to sharply raise excise taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products, a key step to what critics warn will be a push for a global tax on tobacco.

Meeting in Moscow this week, WHO delegates, representing 179 countries and about 90 percent of the world’s population, voted to move ahead on implementing a key part of the 2003 Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The WHO is the public health arm of the United Nations.

The international tobacco tax provision would commit the countries who signed the U.N. antitobacco agreement — nearly every major nation except for the United States, Switzerland and Indonesia — to enact an excise tax equal to at least 70 percent of the retail price of tobacco products.

The gathering got off to a controversial start when delegates voted to bar members of the media, including a credentialed reporter for The Washington Times, from attending key convention and plenary events.