The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organization is urging the government of Ghana to implement tobacco tax as part of control initiatives to reduce the crime rate associated with tobacco trade, and excessive use while increasing revenue for health and development.
According to a policy brief by the NGO, tobacco use “Is a primary risk factor for non-communicable illnesses (NCDs) and the purpose of most preventable diseases, disability and loss of life globally”, and adults particularly 9 out 01 10 adults smokers developed the habit when they were teenagers.
The current survey conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) indicates that more than 6,700 Ghanaians die yearly because of tobacco use and exposure and this accounts for 3% of all deaths in the country.
This means 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” VALD stated.
The organization added that 12.2% of children in Africa are at risk of smoking tobacco due to their exposure, However, 1.3% and 4.9%, particularly girls use electronic cigars and shisha, and raising tobacco tax will be the most effective policy to deter kids, young adults, women and the poor from smoking.
On tax policy, the Vision for Alternative Development indicated that the government has performed poorly in implementing and enforcing the law to safeguard citizens highlighting the need for the government to implement strong laws banning children and teens from smoking since the exposure of tobacco to children has increased to 90%.
“Although the Public Health Act 851 was passed to safeguard the general public, especially children, the country’s teenage tobacco usage is continuously increasing. This may be partly ascribed to ineffective implementation and enforcement, as well as the government’s inability to commit funds for tobacco control initiatives due to competing health priorities” VALD stated.
Despite the continued fight against the excessive use of narcotic drugs, there have been openings for the exploitation of tobacco businesses in the tobacco industry due to the partial tobacco control law.
Ghana like other African countries is far behind in terms of tobacco taxation. Reports gathered by the Vision for Alternative Development show that Madagascar and Mauritius are the only countries complying with WHO recommendations on the tax price.
“Mauritius and Madagascar are the only two countries in Africa complying with WHO recommended share of excise tax in the retail price of at least 70%”.
The non-governmental organisation further advised the government to raise the cigarette tax adding that President Obama’s bright example of achieving a historic victory for the well-being of American children by raising federal tobacco taxes by $1 and expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program can be followed.
“Lowering cigarette and implementing a new law hopes to provide millions of youngsters with a healthier future,” VALD said.