Increase Tax on Tobacco Products – Health Advocates Tell Government
By Julius Muhumuza
Tobacco control advocates in Uganda are demanding the government to increase taxation of tobacco products to raise domestic resources and improve the health of the population.
The call comes after the reading of the National Budget financial year 2020/2021 with the health sector being allocated 2.7 trillion out of the 45.5 trillion of the national budget.
Tobacco control advocates say that increment of tobacco product taxation should be among the priorities of raising domestic resources in the next financial year 2021/2022.
They made the remarks during the capacity training of tobacco control stakeholders in budget advocacy held at Uganda National Health Users/Consumers Organisation (UNHCO) offices in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb.
Julius Kapwempwe an Economist and Director of programs Uganda Debt Network said that tobacco use is one of the key areas in which the health sector needs Money.
Kapwempwe says that the government should also Operationalize tobacco control by scaling up staffing, putting in place enforcement measures, and supporting Civil society views on tobacco control.
“In this COVID-19 situation the tobacco industry should be a target in raising domestic revenue to reduce tobacco use,” Julius Kapwempwe said.
According to Dr. Hafsa Lukwata National Tobacco control Focal Person under the ministry of health, the crucial way to reduce tobacco use in Uganda is to focus on high taxation to make tobacco products expensive for consumption.
“Cigarettes remain cheap because of the sale of sticks instead of packs making it affordable to users, ” Dr Hafsa Lukwata said.
She added that tobacco Control advocates should copy what other countries are practicing to control tobacco use, recommending them to contact the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), to sensitize Tobacco control advocates in Uganda on how other countries have fought tobacco use.
Moses Talibita Uganda National Health Consumers Organization Legal officer told this website that the most significant way of reducing tobacco use is through creating a national budget vote to finance the roll-out of tobacco control programs in Uganda.
“Government should finance Tobacco control programs in the next financial year 2021/2022, from the money extracted from tobacco products taxation as a way of helping the users to quit”, Talibita said.
Smokers spend 23.55% of the average income to purchase 10 popular Uganda cigarettes annually. 38 Ugandans die of tobacco-related diseases every day due to tobacco-related diseases.
According to research in relation to total health costs of tobacco use, indirect mortality costs of tobacco use in Uganda is 189.80 billion Uganda shillings ( USD 73.01 million), total health costs of tobacco use is 328.82 billion Uganda shillings (USD 126.48 million), the total market value of cigarettes is 211.15, billion (USD 81.22 million) and direct cost of tobacco use is 108.05 billion Uganda shillings(USD 41.56 million), Net cost of tobacco use is 117.66 billion (USD 45.22 million) annually meaning that Uganda loses more as a result of tobacco use compared to the amount of revenue it receives through tobacco taxes.