According to the World Health Organization( WHO) Tobacco-related illness is one of the biggest public threats that the world has ever faced.
Approximately, one person dies from a tobacco-liked disease every seconds, equivalent to almost 6 million people a year.
That is forecast to rise to more than 8 million people a year by 2030, with more than 80% of these preventable deaths occuring among people living in low and middle-income countries.
Dr. Magda Robalo, the World Health Organization?s country director for Ghana, speaking at the High Level meeting on Tobacco Taxation in the African Region held in Accra, noted that the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control(WHO FCTC) entered into force in 2005 and parties are obliged over time to take a number of steps to reduce demand and supply for tobacco products.
And protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke, counteracting illicit trade, banning advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
More so, banning sales to minors, putting large health warnings on packages of tobacco, increasing tobacco taxes and creating a national coordinating mechanism for tobacco control.
According to her, in Ghana Ministry of Health and other relevant Agencies have made great strides in tobacco control efforts, since Ghana signed and ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
“Notable among these are the passing of the Public Health Bill to become an Act(PH Act, Act 851), which guides and streamlines Public Health interest. Subsequently tobacco control efforts are guided by part 6 of the Act which deals with Prohibitions of smoking in public places, Tobacco Advertising, promotion and sponsorship (TAPS)among others”, she noted.
This she said, the meeting is all about raising taxes to benefit Public Health and to discuss among others the article 6 and 5.3 of FCTC: Price and Tax measures to reduce the demand for Tobacco products.
According to her, through the hard work of the Ministry of Health and key stakeholders the Legislative Instrument (LI) on part 6 of the Act has been prepared and submitted to the Attorney General’s Office awaiting review by the subsidiary Committee of Parliament.
She has therefore urged Ghana as a country to ratify the Protocol on Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products.
The Deputy Minister for Health Hon. Dr. Victor Asare Bampoe , noted that research has shown that high taxes on tobacco products leading to high prices of such products lead to a reduction in tobacco use.
This he said, supports WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control , which calls on governments to use higher tobacco taxes to reduce tobacco use, as a way of achieving their health objectives.
Dr. Edward Larbi- Siaw, Tax Policy Advisor, Ministry of Finance , said in furtherance of the collaboration and in line with the WHO objective of having a sizeable tax component in the retail price of tobacco products, the Ministry increased the excise tax on tobacco products in the 2015 Budget Statement .
“We are grateful for the technical support you have been giving to us and other countries in the West African Subregion to improve our administrative capacity in the management of the excise tax regime on tobacco and in implementing policy change in favour of tobacco control.
This meeting brings together staff of the various Ministries of Finance and Revenue Agencies in the Sub-region to share information about their tobacco taxation system”, he noted.
By: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/SpyGhana.com