The Government has been urged to increase taxation as a way of reducing its consumption in the country.
The call was made yesterday during the dissemination of a study report on effects of tobacco consumption in Kenya in Nairobi by the National Taxation Authority (NTA) Kenya
The NTA Coordinator Irene Otieno said the move is aimed at deterring youths and those who are yet to engaged in the smoking and tobacco related products
“We urge the government to increase tax on tobacco products to reduce tobacco consumption in the country, this will lead to healthy nation,” she said.
According to the report, tobacco related diseases kills more than 6,000 Kenyans annually.
The national coordinator said that the increase will contribute significantly to lower consumption of tobacco products that will safe guard any allocation of the Kenyan tax.
“The government through the national treasury and planning ministry should reform the tax structure to conform to the best practice by introducing a uniform tax rate,” she said
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that at-least 70 percent of retail price of tobacco products comes from excise taxes.
Kenyas baseline scenario indicates that on aggregate the share of total tax on cigarettes was about 44 percent in 2015.
Otieno urged the government to focus more on the tobacco control rather than cure of the disease A review presented by Boaz Munya,a policy analyst showed that Kenya is one of the highest consumers of tobacco in sub-Saharan Africa many of whom are poverty stricken.
Boaz said cigarette consumption and other forms of tobacco products are reportedly to be on increase hence the need to effectively put tax measures
“The prevalence on the use of smokeless tobacco among those aged 15 and above was 5.3 percent for men and 3.8 percent for women based a 2014 survey,” he said.
A representative from the tax justice network Africa Vincent Kimosop said tobacco products are increasingly becoming cheaper.
Kimosop urged the government to come up with a policy that meets the requirement of the tobacco control act.
“Both the national and county governments should support the wide control spectrum surrounding tobacco consumption in the country,” he said.