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Excise Duty Amendment Act is critically important; It Will curb premature deaths caused by NCDs

As part of efforts of addressing the rising burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and also by promoting public health, the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD Ghana) and the Advocating for Health (A4H) Coalition has taken another judicious step by organizing a national stakeholder meeting on health taxes.

The national stakeholder meeting which was in Accra brought together key stakeholders from various sectors to dissect the topic of health taxes and also devise strategies for a multi-stakeholder implementation of the Excise Duty Amendment Act 2023.

The Principal Investigator of the Advocating for Health Project, and the Healthier Diets for Healthy Lives (HD4HL) Project, Prof Amos Laar, speaking at the meeting hinted that NCDs are a major cause of death and disability in Ghana.

“Currently, high blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose, high body mass index (or obesity), and other dietary risk factors of NCDs are among top the 10 risk factors that drive the most death and disability combined.

While the causes of NCDs are complex and with multiple interacting determinants, dietary factors such as excessive consumption of calorie-dense nutrient-poor foods (including SSBs) are paramount.

SSBs are available, are accessible, affordable, and are heavily marketed, and celebrity-endorsed and that is not good for public health. An examination of Ghana’s soft drink (SSBs) market using data from 2001 to 2021 raises serious public health concerns. In 2021 alone, the Ghanaian soft drink market value was estimated to be about 1.9 billion liters, with a per capita consumption estimated to be 51.2 liters (50,000ml) ~40 cans of 330ml coke bottles.

If we are to win the war against premature deaths caused by NCDs, we must also win the battles in our kitchens, shops, supermarkets, restaurants, and schools …. In our churches …We must make it easier for people to make healthy choices, and harder to make unhealthy choices,” he underscored.

Stressing that there is a need for comprehensive policy implementation and policy evaluation plan. The Excise Duty Amendment Act is critically important and will be impactful if it’s implemented effectively. But it will be even more effective when it’s bundled with other policies.

The Executive Director of VALD Ghana, Labram Musah, on the other hand, re-echoed the need for the benchmarking of taxes on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) and alcohol to the prevailing headline inflation rate in the country.

This comes amidst heightened concerns over the negative health impacts of excessive consumption of these products.

With Ghana’s headline inflation currently standing at 42.2% as of May 2023, according to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), Musah asserted that adjusting taxes in line with inflation is a crucial step towards curbing consumption by making these products less affordable.

The Excise Duty Amendment Act 2023, Musah emphasized that benchmarking taxes on SSBs and alcohol to inflation, along with the proposed tax structure on tobacco, will effectively limit the accessibility and availability of these products to Ghanaians.

By elevating the prices of these goods, consumers will be deterred from excessive consumption, ultimately reducing the associated health risks.

The Head of Tobacco and Substances of Abuse Department of the Foods and Drugs Authority, Dr. Olivia A. Boateng also added that the passage of the Excise Duty Amendment Act, 2023 (Act 1096) is a significant milestone in the history of tobacco control in Ghana.

“Raising taxes on tobacco products will lead to increases in their price making tobacco less affordable to people who use it and preventing youth initiation.

Youth and low-income groups are more reactive to increased prices of tobacco, they enjoy the economic and health benefits of quitting and not commencing.

Increased taxes also have a positive impact on non-smokers by reducing their exposure to second-hand smoke. It also improves the health of people and communities,” she stated.

Additionally, that taxing tobacco products decreases the severe healthcare costs and financial losses brought on by tobacco-related illnesses.

In addition to being relatively easy to implement, tobacco taxes provide large sums of money over the short and medium term. Government revenues raised in this way can be used for health and other public benefits including providing cessation for tobacco users who decide to quit.

“The only concern or challenge that needs to be addressed is the new trends; the Electronic Nicotinic Delivery Systems / Vaping Devices that are not under regulation per the current law but have been included in the products to be taxed.

The FDA is committed to fully supporting the implementation of the Excise Duty Amendment Act, 2023 (Act 1093) to reduce tobacco use and save lives in Ghana,” she emphasized.

The Head of the Excise Taskforce of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Mr. Nelson Bright Atsu, also noted that the Excise Duty Amendment Act has provided for the inclusion of non-non-alcoholic beverages and electronic cigarettes.

Stressing that the GRA will collaborate with institutions such as the Ghana Armed Forces, the Ghana Police Service, National Security, Foods and Drugs Authority as well as selected civil society organizations in the implementation of the new tax.

The stakeholder meeting is part of efforts to facilitate a better understanding of health taxes among Ghanaians through media engagement. It also provided a platform for discussing the implementation plan for the Excise Duty Amendment Act in collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Ghana Health Service, Food and Drugs Authority, World Health Organization, Ghana Standards Authority, Civil Society Organizations, academia, and media representatives.

Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/

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