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Gov’t To Introduce Sin Tax To Tackle NCDs

By Clement Akoloh
Alexander Kwodwo Kom Abban, Deputy Minister for Health Alexander Kwodwo Kom Abban, Deputy Minister for Health

Government is set to impose sin tax to control the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and sugary beverages among others in order to reduce the rising cases of Non-Communicable Diseases in the country.

The high consumption of these products have exposed people to some deadly lifestyle diseases.

Non-Communicable Diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes among others are diseases which can affect one through prolonged practice of unhealthy lifestyles such as excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking of tobacco and tobacco-related products, eating junk foods and general lack of exercise.

A sin tax is an excise levy that is placed on products or goods and services perceived harmful to the society. These include levies on alcohol and tobacco, sweeties, hard drugs, soft drinks, fast foods, coffee, sugar, gambling and pornography, among others.

According to the statistics, Non-Communicable Diseases are responsible for about 43 percent of all deaths in Ghana, with over 94,000 people dying every year as a result of NCDs.

In an effort to reverse the trend of the devastating effect of NCDs on the national economy and the People Living with NCDs, the Ministry of Health is spearheading the move to levy the sin tax to discourage the consumption of these unhealthy products and to minimize the risk factors for NCDs.

The move is part of a new idea to pursue a preventive health agenda rather than the implementation of a curative health system which is putting a lot pressure on the country’s healthcare system.

Speaking at the official launch of the Ghana Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs in Accra, the Deputy Minister for Health, Alexander Kwodwo Kom Abban disclosed that government is already in talks for the possible introduction of the Sin Tax.

“Talks are also ongoing with the relevant authorities such as the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to introduce a sin tax on some unhealthy commodities such as tobacco, alcohol and sugar sweetener beverages among others,” he disclosed.

According to the Deputy Minister, owing to what pertains in the western countries, sin tax promises to be an effective tool to deal with these unhealthy habits which later become a burden on the society and the nation’s health delivery system.

“As we know from overseas experience, this kind of tax is assisting greatly in reducing the consumption of these products and we think they are a key tool for reducing the NCD burden and pressures on NHIS,” he observed.

The Ghana Advocacy Agenda of People Living with NCDs is a document put together by the Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) in consultation with over 100 people Living with NCDs and health stakeholders.

Its aim is to promote the meaningful involvement of People Living with NCDs in the NCD response at national, regional and local levels in Ghana.

The Ghana Advocacy Agenda is anchored on four key pillars, including Human Rights and Social Justice; Prevention; Treatment, Care, and Support; and Meaningful Involvement of People Living with NCDs in designing policies which concern them.