Participants at a stakeholders meeting have expressed the need for the government to increase taxes on tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened products to raise revenue and to protect the lives of the citizenry.
The meeting was organised by the Vision for Alternative Development and Ghana Tax Advocacy Network for Health Promotion and was supported by the Framework Convention Alliance and the Norwegian Cancer Society.
Divine Logo at the Research Division of the Ghana Health Service who presented a rapid assessment findings on tobacco, alcohol and sugar products said the demand for the products could be reduced through taxation and pricing mechanisms.
He said there was the need for the government to develop an effective policy on sugar-sweetened beverages to protect the public especially children and the youth by undertaking immediate and concerted efforts to regulate or ban advertisements on television, radio, billboards, the internet, among others to reduce consumption.
Head, Tobacco and Substances Abuse Department of the Food and Drugs Authority, Dr Mrs Olivia Boateng, who made a presentation, said there were measures to control accessibility and exposure of tobacco to the youth.
Dr Mrs Boateng said the FDA was committed to using the smoke-free provisions in the Tobacco Control Measures and Tobacco Control Regulations to reduce social acceptability of tobacco use, promote cessation, help users to quit and prevent initiation, especially among the youth thus improving the quality of life of Ghanaians.
Labram Musah, Director, VALD and the Coordinator of Tax Advocacy Network for Health Promotion said a study undertaken showed that tobacco and alcoholic products were amongst the cheapest products in Ghana.
“A stick of cigarette cost the smoker 20 pesewas (pack of 10 sticks is GH¢2.00), a sachet of alcohol cost the drinker GH¢1.00 and the low cost is targeted at the youth, poor and the vulnerable groups in the country,” he said.
Labram Musah said patronage of the products lead to sicknesses such as non-communicable diseases, cancers, heart diseases, blindness, among others, and were the leading cause of deaths, disabilities in the world today. Mr Musah said Ghana’s tax of 16.06 per cent excise tax as a percentage of cigarette prices could be increased significantly to meet the WHO benchmark of a minimum of 70 per cent of retail price.