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DRH GHANA calls for tax increase on tobacco products

At a public forum on the passage of the tobacco bill into law, DRH Ghana has among other proposals called on the Government to impose higher taxes on tobacco products to make the cost to the end user less affordable and prohibitive, whiles discouraging others from initiating tobacco use. The programme was organized by Vision for Alternate Development an NGO in Accra in collaboration with CNTC including DRH Ghana.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Honourable Minister of Health assured Ghanaians of the Ministry’s eagerness to have the bill passed into law, so as to reduce all the health and economic burden of tobacco use in Ghana.

In a presentation on the topic “The burden of Tobacco Use” Dr. P. E Sefogah said tobacco use has serious negative social, economic and health implications for the primary user, secondary smokers and society at large. He said tobacco related illness is the number one cause of death worldwide and projected to kill about 6 million people in 2010. Approximately, 75% of these deaths are projected to occur in the low and middle income countries like Ghana and many other African countries.

According to Dr Sefogah, tobacco contains over 40 different harmful chemicals that affect every single organ in the human body negatively, causing cancers, heart diseases, diabetes and in some cases may lead to amputations. More than 10 million children dying from malnutrition would be saved if family resources/income spent on cigarette are diverted to providing food.

According to Dr. Sefogah, everybody who breaths air is a potential second hand smoker and hence should be concerned and get involved in public education even at the family level. “Cigarette use is a sure and an honourable way of committing suicide” he quoted. He strongly advised the youth not to engage in smoking since it has very strong addictive tendencies and would ruin their lives.

Dr. Kofi Ahmed, former Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health was the Chairman for the forum at which several civil society organizations and members of the general public participated at the British Council Hall in Accra.

Updated: 5th February 2010