Apart from the huge loses in government revenue, illicit trade in tobacco products fuels the tobacco epidemic by increasing its accessibility, affordability and consumption which then gives rise to increased prevalence to tobacco use and eventually burdening the state with the disease.
In order to reverse the trend of the dangers posed to the society by the illicit trade in this harmful product of tobacco, the Parliament of Ghana has ratified the “Protocol for the Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products”.
The document which was laid before the House on Thursday April 11, 2019, was ratified on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 following recommendations from the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health.
The Protocol aims among others to eliminate all forms of unlawful trade in tobacco products, in accordance with the terms of Article 15 of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), secure the supply chain of tobacco products and protect people across the globe from the risks of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Ghana has already ratified the WHO FCTC out of which the Protocol was derived. The country has also passed the Public Health Act since 2012 to tackle issues of tobacco use in Ghana. It was therefore the Committee’s recommendation that the ratification of the Protocol would ensure that citizens are protected from the risks and dangers that illegitimate trade in Tobacco products and use pose to the general and the nation as a whole.
“Being a member of the inter-governmental negotiating body, Ghana led the African Region in negotiating for the development and adoption of the Protocol and government through the Ghana Revenue Authority has already implemented most of the provisions in it including the introduction of Tax Stamp. The Protocol therefore needs to be ratified so that Ghana would become a Member of the Parties,” the Committee observed.
The Protocol would also ensure the control of the supply chain cover licensing, due diligence, record-keeping, security and preventive measures as well as measures relating to the internet and telecommunication. It also covers very important matters concerning offences, liability, prosecutions and sanctions, seizure payments and special investigative techniques as well as the disposal and destruction of confiscated products.
Other key provisions address the issue of international cooperation such as measures on information sharing, technical and law enforcement cooperation, protection of sovereignty, jurisdiction, mutual legal and administrative assistance and extradition. It also establishes the reporting obligations of the Parties linked to the reporting system of the WHO FCTC as well as the financial and institutional arrangements necessary for its implementation.
Illicit trade in tobacco products undermines legal restriction, health regulations and tobacco control policies and results in increased accessibility, affordability and consumption of tobacco products, thus fueling the tobacco epidemic.
These give rise to increased prevalence of tobacco use and eventually impact negatively on public health efforts that seek to reduce the burden of disease, disability and deaths attributed to tobacco related diseases or nan-communicable diseases.