Story by Naa Betty Mingle & Erica Kwapong
Just last week the Finance Minister, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, read the budget on the increment of tobacco tax for health reasons, and also to better align with international agreements on excise duty on cigarettes, which will rise from 140 to 150 percent.
Tobacco is known as very dangerous to human health, especially, to those who do not smoke. This is because exhaled cigarette smoke could be very cancerous, due to the tobacco content in it.
It has been noted that tobacco is projected to kill over 10 million smokers and passive smokers by 2030, with 70 percent in developing countries, including Ghana.
Even though the Food and Drugs Boards and the Ghana Health Service are putting up measures to reduce to the minimum, disease and deaths caused by tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke, the government has taken the initiative of reducing the smoking of cigarettes due to the tax increment.
A walk through the streets of Accra for views on the effects of the increment on tobacco taxes revealed that most of the bar tenders affirmed that they usually attract more customers, and even if the prices go up, they will still sell the cigarettes till their customers give up.
A bar tender at Feehi Valley Beach Hotel at Korle-Gonno said, “Mine is to give out what my customers want, so if prices increase, mine also increases, but I’ll decrease my supply, because I think they will also decrease their demand,” adding, “I have been purchasing about 10 to 15 boxes every week.”
Meanwhile, a cigarette smoker spotted around Barca Spot at Mamprobi, told the Accra File, “I am addicted to smoking, and if people addicted to cocaine can purchase cocaine with millions of cedis, I can also buy, because it is something I really enjoy doing.”
Moreover, most pubs and drinking bars assume cigarette selling brings a lot profit, because that was one of the reasons customers patronise their businesses.
The Accra File noticed that the cigarette packs had inscriptions like ‘Smoking causes cancer’ and ‘Smoking hurts the smoker and people around,’ but yet still, smokers smoke, and cigarettes are still on our markets, and the smokers and sellers have turned blind eyes to the inscriptions.
A smoker declared, “We are all aware every smoker has got health problems, and for me, I have a doctor who attends to me, so I don’t think I have any problem with smoking and the inscriptions on it.”
So how would the Accra File call it now, would the increment bring changes in smokers, or will it still remain as before?