Health financing for universal coverage

Public health taxes

B.Mathivet/WHO

A public health tax, often referred to as a "sin tax", is placed on goods that adversely affect health, most notably tobacco and alcohol. Three principal arguments are used to justify this type of taxation. It can reduce consumption through increased prices; compensate society for things like increased health system costs; and increase resources for the health sector.

A criticism is that public health taxes can be regressive if mostly poor people consume the goods being taxed. The public health objectives of public health taxes are separate from their health sector revenue raising objectives.