Raise Tobacco Tax To Deter Children, Youth From Smoking- VALD

THE VISION for Alternative Development (VALD) is calling for the review of the current tax regime from Advalorem to Specific to allow effective price increases on tobacco products to protect, children, youth, young adults, women and the poor.

It said a significant price rise on cigarettes presented a ‘win-win’ policy choice for the government, as it would boost income, and would decrease usage at the same time.

“Evidence from numerous nations demonstrates that effective tax hikes result in a decrease in tobacco smoking prevalence, consumption and inequalities. Most significantly, it gives the government financial room to undertake public health initiatives like programs for universal health coverage,” a VALD policy brief stated.

The civil society organisation (CSO) also called for regular adjustments of prices on tobacco products and other ‘sinful’ products to take care of inflation.

“Ban point-of-sale displays, advertising to minors, and the sponsorship of public events by tobacco companies,” the policy brief stated.

It indicated that tobacco smoking among the youth was a serious public health issue leading to severe respiration ailments, reduced bodily fitness, and capability consequences on lung growth and function.

“Currently, there are more than 41 million humans who die out of NCDs every 12 months, accounting for 71 % of all global deaths.Subsequently, the latest survey conducted by United Nations Development Programme-Ghana (UNDP) pronounced that more than 6,700 Ghanaians die annually because of tobacco use and exposure, accounting for 3% of all death in Ghana (UNDP Unpublished),” it said.

It further noted that studies were concerned about the rapid new emerging tobacco products which would eventually worsen and increase most NCDs such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, lung diseases, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

“Children, teenagers, young adults, and women are especially vulnerable to these health issues. Around the world, 13 million youth (ages 13 to 15) and close to 25 million smokers use smokeless tobacco, respectively.

“Additionally, out of 10 adult smokers now developed the habit when they were teenagers, which implies that 5.6 million current-day children and teenagers will eventually pass away too soon from smoking-related illnesses if current tobacco usage trends continue,” it said.

It, therefore, called for the review of the current tobacco control laws to comprehensive smoke-free laws by eliminating the Designated Smoking Areas (DSA).

Enforcement of smoking bans in public places such as schools, sport event centres, workplaces, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, and parks, as well as in public transportation and cars transporting minors.

“Enforce the law on the sale to and by minors and the sale of cigarette single sacks, educate students and families on the negative health consequences of tobacco use as part school curriculum,” it added.

By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri