The Centre for Trade Policy and Development has called on Government through relevant agencies to conduct a review of the current tobacco taxation framework with the aim of increasing taxes applicable to tobacco and nicotine products.
CTPD Researcher Legal Chileshe Mange says as a signatory to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Zambia has assented to implementing the guidelines without
Ms Mange says these guidelines include developing harm reduction strategies to reduce access to and consumption of tobacco.
“In Zambia, the population highly at risk to Tobacco consumption is the youth, particularly adolescents. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Health Organisation
(WHO) have established that increasing the excise tax on tobacco products is an effective way of reducing tobacco consumption”, she said.
Ms Mange said this is evidenced by the reduced tobacco consumption among populations in countries such as Australia, Kenya and South Africa
that have systematically increased excise taxes on tobacco products.
She said the Australian government has raised taxes on tobacco by an incremental rate of12.5% annually from 2017-2020.
Ms Mange said currently, the average pack of cigarettes costs an equivalent of US$34.
She said the country is expected to raise approximately US$ 4.7 billion between 2017 and 2020 from tobacco taxes adding that the number of tobacco smokers and nicotine users has more than halved since 1995, when the government first implemented a more stringent tax regime.
Ms Mange said according to the UNDP, increased excise taxes on products such as tobacco can raise fiscal revenues, address market failures and replenish lost economic output from tobacco related death and disease as well as the externalization of avoidable health costs for society to treattobacco-related diseases.
She said governments therefore require sound tax policies and systems
that ensure that they achieve both fiscal and public health objectives in relation to tobacco.
Ms Mange added that the WHO also recommends that raising tobacco excise taxes to more than 70% of the retail price is among the most effective and cost-effective tobacco control interventions saying this is therefore the recommended global benchmark in relation to excise duties on tobacco and
She said signatories to the WHO FCTC Zambia inclusive are therefore encouraged to take steps towards achieving this benchmark.
Ms Mange said the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Products Control Bill, 2018 (which is domestication of the WHO-FCTC) is scheduled to be tabled before Parliament in due course and CTPD
recommends that Government simultaneously review tax legislation in respect of tobacco products to ensure harmonization with the proposed legislation and the global recommended benchmark.
She said there is also need for policy and legal cohesion among the different sectors in order for tobacco control to be effective and has urged relevant Government agencies to work together and begin to table the appropriate tax legislation.