30 Mar 2012

New excise taxes planned for American Samoa to pay for medical referral programme

4:13 pm on 30 March 2012

The American Samoa governor, Togiola Tulafono, says excise tax increases on alcohol and cigarettes are justified if the money is used to treat people suffering from diseases caused by these products.

The governor wants the Fono to approve a bill raising ten million US dollars through excise tax increases, to fund the off island medical referral programme.

If approved the excise on beer would be go from from 190 to 250 percent, other alcohol from 15 to 22.5 percent, and from 12 to 17 percent on cigarettes.

Governor Togiola told the Fono a huge amount of healthcare resources and funding are poured into treating illnesses attributed to alcohol and smoking, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Togiola said not everyone on island smokes or drinks but those who do are more likely to need healthcare services like dialysis in the future and that is very expensive.