The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) says there must be a deliberate policy to discourage tobacco use in the country.
According to VALD, the government must take the responsibility to protect citizens against tobacco use and dangers, as the cost effect on the peoples’ health outweighs the economic benefits it brings.
“Besides the negative public health and human capital impacts, the hiking dangers of tobacco-related diseases also place a heavy cost on public health spending as well as household budgets and the national economy,” it said.
A statement signed by its Executive Director of Programme, Labram M. Musah indicated that the total socio-economic cost of tobacco-related diseases includes, but is not limited to healthcare costs, work absenteeism, obstruction from the performance of critical social roles like parenting, and other individual or family responsibilities.
It suggests a 30% prevalence reduction through tobacco tax increases, as the World Health Organization (WHO) posits that one of the most effective and the least expensive tools in the fight against tobacco use are the application of tobacco tax.
The release added that WHO has proposed the making of cigarettes four times more costly in all countries in order to reduce the world’s tobacco use prevalence from the current 21% to 15% in 2025.
Similarly, it referred to the World Bank Global Tobacco Control Program which states that; “Higher taxes on tobacco products reduce tobacco consumption and improve public health, while also increasing government revenues that can be used to fund priority investments and programs that benefit the entire population.”
According to VALD, research has shown that 10% increase in the prices of cigarette reduces significantly the use of the products between 2% and 8%, adding that the higher tobacco prices, the likelihood of reducing tobacco use in more vulnerable populations, such as youth and lower-income people because they are very sensitive to price increases.
VALD expressed concern over Ghana’s anemic commitment to slapping high taxes on tobacco products, as the 2022 budget and policy statement failed to increase taxes on tobacco products.