Parliament should uphold increase on proposed tax on nicotine and cigarettes

The National Assembly Finance and Planning Committee, has been carrying out public hearings on the Finance Bill 2022, that proposes taxes on nicotine and cigarettes.

The Committee led by Ms Gladys Wanga, are to make their recommendations in the National Assembly, Tuesday next week, after debating on them and adopting or making adjustments where necessary before they vote the bill to become law by the end of this month.

Members of the National Assembly will then debate on the recommendations and

adopt or make adjustments where necessary, before they vote for the Bill to become

law by end of this month.

Before the d- day, Tobacco Control Board and Health promotion Advocates in the country have asked the committee to uphold or increase in the proposed taxes.

In a statement today, the health experts under the Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA), have asked Committee and other members of the National Assembly to vote for higher taxes on nicotine and cigarettes in order to stop a growing epidemic of non- communicable diseases caused by the widespread problem of nicotine addiction in the country.

Dr. Catherine Karekezi, the Executive Director at Non-communicable Diseases

Alliance Kenya said, “We support the increase in taxes on nicotine and tobacco products. The use of tobacco is a primary risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which include heart disease, stroke, cancer, chronic lung disease, and mental health disorders.

She further added that the funds collected from the tax on the products should be channeled to health care.

“We are having to pay more for the increased burden of cardiovascular diseases and other NCDs in Kenya. Even though the government is looking at increasing revenue, when you consider the adverse health effect and how much these products are costing us, then they should be taxed more and the funds should go to health care,” Dr. Karekezi said.

Nancy Gachoka, the Acting Chairperson of the Tobacco Control Board, said nicotine products are not only addictive but also toxic.

“Cigarettes, e-cigarettes and tobacco products contain many dangerous toxins. We cannot allow our young people to spend the rest of their lives chained to nicotine addiction,” she said

Dr. Gachoka added that studies have shown that nicotine that is dangerous and addictive can cause increase in blood pressure, heart rate, flow of blood to the heart and a narrowing of the arteries and the chemical can stay in your body for six to eight hours.

“There are some new tobacco products that deliver even more nicotine than the traditional cigarettes and some e-cigarettes too that can bring some side effects of withdrawal and that is why we support the increased taxes on nicotine and any other products containing nicotine,” Dr. Gachoka reiterated

Dr Nyambura Salome, a social scientist and lecturer at Kenyatta University, noted that the use of tobacco and nicotine products such as pouches and e-cigarettes has been confirmed as an entry point to other drugs such as bhang and heroin and nicotine.

“The nicotine pouches are nine times more potent than cigarettes. Their nicotine concentration is unbelievably high and since they are packaged beautifully and because of lack of compliance directives by the Ministry of health to put pictorial warnings showing these products are harmful and can cause death, more young people continue on using them,” she said

National Chairman of the Tobacco and Health Promotion Alliance, Joel Gitali, has asked the Committee to ignore disinformation being peddled by big giants of tobacco manufacturing industry who are saying the taxes are unnecessary.

“Parliament should even increase the amount and come up with more measures. It should not try to please the tobacco industry. If it wants to make any changes, it must consult the Ministry of Health. These dangerous nicotine products are accessible to minors which means the rate at which young people are recruited into drugs abuse is high,” Gitali said.

Last month, Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Mr Ukur Yatani, proposed to change the

taxation regime for liquid nicotine from the current (zero) shillings per unit, to an excise duty of Sh.70 per milliliter.

The Finance Bill also proposes an increase in prices for cigarettes with filters from Sh 3,447.61 per mille (one thousand sticks) to Sh 3,825.99 per mille and an increase in prices for cigarettes without filters (plain cigarettes) from Sh 2,502.74 per mille to Sh 2,752.97 per mille.



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