Stakeholders focus on tobacco taxation to cut back consumption

The Vision for Alternative Development Tax Advocacy Network for Health Promotion held a national tobacco tax stakeholder meeting to help reduce tobacco use in Ghana.

The non-governmental organization is running a tobacco tax project in the country under the auspices of the Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

Mr. Labram M. Musah, the project coordinator and program director of VALD, said in a presentation in 2017 that the BMGF had supported TJNA in the financing of the tobacco tax advocacy project in Africa, which started with five implementing organizations in four countries.

The countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2 organizations), Nigeria, Zambia and Kenya, while Ghana joined in phase ‘2’ in 2021.

Mr Musah said the project aims to ensure that policymakers and advocates have a common understanding of the potential role tobacco taxes can play in reducing tobacco use, improving health outcomes and mobilizing domestic resources for tax equity.

Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu said in a statement read on his behalf that a combination of measures, such as those set out in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), are needed to combat the tobacco epidemic effectively It is well known that an increase in tobacco taxes will reduce tobacco consumption faster than any other single measure.

“Hence, continuing tobacco taxation as a measure to improve health and well-being and to mobilize resources for health development is the way to go,” he said, saying that tobacco remains a major global challenge to public health and economies.

Mr Agyeman-Manu said that according to WHO estimates, tobacco killed up to half of its users and more than eight million people died each year, more than seven million of whom were due to direct tobacco use, while about 1.2 million were non-smokers who did Have been exposed to secondhand smoke.

“As a ministry, we are committed to strengthening health policies, particularly when it comes to tobacco control, and we would make sure it is a key policy area on our agenda,” he said.

Mr. Agyeman-Manu, pleased that the project’s objectives were in line with the ministry’s revised National Health Policy (2020) introduced last year, said, ‚ÄúThis revised National Health Policy (2020) called for an approach to the entire government and society to address all social determinants of health for better health outcomes. “

“This means that working with the Vision for Alternative Development and the Ghana Tax Advocacy Network for Health Promotion and other stakeholders on this project would not be out of place,” he said.

In a presentation, the Ghana Revenue Authority said that alcohol and tobacco, which were traditional taxable products, have been labeled “sin taxes” because of the havoc they have wreaked and continue to wreak to the human body and society at large.

“Sin taxes have become what is commonly referred to as an excise tax or duty, and tobacco remains on the list to this day,” he said, adding that the excise tax (tax) is defined as a tax that is imposed on the manufacture The sale or use of some selected products such as alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and petroleum products will be charged. “

Were present at the meeting; Dr. Baffuor Awuah, Special Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr. Alex Kombat, Assistant Commissioner, Support Service Division, Ghana Revenue Authority, Dr. Akoto Appau, Head of Excise Duties, Custom Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Dr. Michael Boakye, a consultant, Hendrich Dwomor of the Treasury Department’s Tax Policy Division, and Mavis Danso, a Senior Regulatory Officer on Tobacco and Drug Abuse for the Food and Drugs Authority.