A maiden National Forum on Tobacco Taxation has been held with a call on the public to support tobacco taxation to safeguard the present and future generations for effective sustainable development.

The forum organized by the Vision for Alternative Development – Ghana (VALD-Ghana) was on the theme ‘Strengthening the Evidence for Effective Tobacco Taxation for Health and Development in Ghana.’

Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Minister of Finance, made the call in a statement read on his behalf by Mr Hendrick Dwomoh-Mensah, Principal Economics Officer of the Ministry to open the forum in Accra on Thursday.

He said such fora served as a crucial platform for the process of engagement and dissemination of information to stakeholders on Government Policy as well as propose feasible recommendations through which Ghana’s tobacco taxation regime could be aligned to address emerging trends in the tobacco industry.

‘As we may be aware, Article ‘6’ of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
(FCTC) WHO FCTC encourages price and tax measures as the most effective means to reduce the demand for tobacco, including increasing taxes to raise the sales price of tobacco products and prohibiting or restricting sales of tax- and duty-free tobacco products,’ he stated

Dr Adam said as a Government and a Ministry, they had not reneged in their efforts since the evolution of excise taxes on tobacco prior 2007 to date, which had witnessed several reforms in the tax structures from flat ad-valorem to specific excise duty, to ad-valorem in 2010 until recently a mixed structure.

‘This not only demonstrates Government’s commitment towards these Conventions, but also our remarkable strides in the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) ‘3’ by 2030, which aims to prevent needless suffering from preventable diseases and premature death by focusing on key targets that boost the health of a country’s overall population,’ he noted.

The Minister said it was alarming to note that the global e-cigarette market
was valued by Euromonitor International at over US$32 billion a year in 2022 and E-Vapour was worth US$ 19 billion.

‘Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) sales, and Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENNDS) facilitated the growth of tobacco companies by maintaining nicotine addiction and recruiting younger consumers.

‘In Europe, these companies have been able to market them as healthier alternatives to smoking and an aid to cessation.

After decades of marketing lethal products to the public, they now present themselves as champions of ‘harm reduction,’ striving to help smokers to quit cigarettes and transition to safer electronic alternatives. This is a calculated attempt to also distract attention on ENDS of policymakers from classic tobacco control measures, moving the discourse away from cigarettes,’ he stated.

Dr Adam said it was therefore an undeniable fact that, the more informed the government was about the sophisticated tactics employed by the tobacco industry, the more effective the
nation could impose tobacco control measures including tax policies.

He commended the efforts of VALD-Ghana, the Ghana Revenue Authority, Food and Drugs Authority, WHO, IMF and other civil society organisations who had constantly brought to the fore some of these deceptive schemes.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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