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Ghana takes steps to streamline laws on tobacco control

Ghana takes steps to streamline laws on tobacco control

Dr Alex Moyem Kombat, the Assistant Commissioner, Research and Policy, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), has called for stakeholder engagement to look at two conflicting laws on the implementation of tax policy on e-cigarettes.

The laws are Act 1093/1108 (First Schedule) and Section 61(2) and 62(1) Part six of the Public Health Act 2012 (Act 851).

He said meeting with stakeholders such as the Foods and Drug Authority (FDA) and the Vision for Alternative Development – Ghana (VALD-Ghana) would help restructure the laws to protect the health of the citizenry.

Dr Kombat made the call in a presentation titled; “Taxing Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarettes) – The GRA Viewpoint,” at a stakeholders’ meeting on the Novel and Emerging Tobacco and Nicotine Products in Ghana.

It was organised by VALD-Ghana and supported by Tax Justice Network Africa.

Dr Kombat said e-cigarettes were harmful to human health, which were imported in large quantities, while people were trading in the products and that taxing them was in line with Article Eight of Chapter Four of ECOWAS Directive.

“Article 8 of Chapter 4 requires that member states levy a minimum of 50 per cent ad valorem duty and a specific tax of USD 0.02/cigarette and USD 20/net kilogram for other tobacco products,” he stated.

Ghana signed the protocol and paved the way for the implementation of the hybrid system as well as the imposition of Excise Duty on E-Cigarette and E-Liquids.

Dr Kombat said it was the responsibility of the Government to protect the citizenry against any smoking related health risks and other harmful products such as alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and tobacco, hence the comprehensive amendment to the First Schedule of the Excise Duty Act, 2014 (Act 878).

“While the implementation is expected to impact revenue, it is also expected to bring about a change in attitude for the greater good of society (Win-Win Scenario),” he stated.

He urged stakeholders to strengthen their collaboration with state agencies and international bodies to fight illicit trade in tobacco products including e-cigarettes while applying more technology in the fight against the illicit tobacco/e-cigarette trade.

Dr Arti Singh, a Lecturer at the School of Public Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, who made a presentation on Novel and Emerging Tobacco and Nicotine Products in Ghana, called on Member States of the WHO Framework Convention (WHO FCTC) on Tobacco Control to consider banning or regulating e-cigarettes alongside other comprehensive control measures.

E-cigarettes were growing rapidly, especially among children and young people, she said, and that the products contained toxic substances harmful to peoples’ health, sometimes at levels higher than in tobacco smoke.

“E-cigarettes have not been proven to be effective for smoking cessation at the population level and may lead to ongoing nicotine dependence,” Dr Singh stated.

Introducing the use of e-cigarettes in Ghana could pose a challenge for tobacco control efforts in the country, where implementation of the WHO FCTC articles has already been challenging, she said.

Mr Labram Musah, the Executive Director of Programmes, VALD-Ghana, in a welcoming address, expressed happiness of the collective commitment of CSOs to addressing public health challenges posed by the rising of novel and emerging tobacco and nicotine products in Ghana.

He said the study on tobacco and nicotine products should serve as a critical resource for policy making, awareness creation and enforcement of the Tobacco Control Measures, specifically on non-tobacco products in Ghana.

“As you are aware, nicotine is highly addictive, which by extension makes electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) and electronic non nicotine delivery systems (ENNDS) very injurious and harmful to human health,” Mr Musah said.

“Our call has always been to ban all the Novel and Emerging Tobacco and Nicotine Products in Ghana as they have no public health gains for this present and future generations.”

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Source: GNA

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