TANZANIA: TOBACCO HAZARDS FOR CHECK AS NEW BILL TIGHTENS SCREWS

DAR ES SALAAM, As government finalizes preparations for Tobacco Control Bill expected to be tabled in the next Bunge session, advocates propose higher taxes on tobacco related products to rescue millions of Tanzanians who are exposed or succumb to tobacco hazards, yearly.

The hike in excise taxes is beamed as a powerful tool for reducing consumption among youth and the public, at the same time increasing revenue collection for the state.

Though some people believe that tobacco is an economically important crop to an extent that instituting effective tobacco control policies would lead to loss of revenue by the government, it remains a fact that tobacco products affect not only users but also non-users through second hand smoking.

According to statistics, 14.1 per cent of Tanzanians smoke daily while the product is attributed as the major risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory ailment.

Speaking at a two-day seminar, organised for editors and senior journalists to build capacity on tobacco control issues, the former Executive Director, South Africa's National Council Against Smoking, Dr Yussuf Saloojee, said that imposing higher taxes on tobacco products is a health decision that can prevent more deaths in the country.

The seminar was organised by Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum in collaboration with African Tobacco Control Alliance and Ministry of Health, Community Development , Gender, Elders and Children.

Dr Saloojee said that it will also influence consumer behaviour and discourage harmful consumption especially among youth and poor people.

According to the World Bank publication, an increase in the real price of cigarettes by 10 per cent globally will prevent 10 million tobaccorelated deaths worldwide and 0.7 million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa.

Increases in tobacco taxes lead to increase in tax revenues, despite reduction in tobacco use, he said. He further said that studies show that the poor are first to stop smoking if tobacco prices increase thus they will be able to save money and increased government revenues will be used to support propoor programmes.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK