Ghana: Government Plans Alcohol Tax Hike
The Ghanaian government is planning a tax hike for health-harmful consumer products, including alcohol, tobacco and sugary beverages.
Hon. Alexander Kodwo Kom Abban, Deputy Health Minister of Ghana, explained that the planned tax hike is intended to discourage the sale and promotion of products which are causing the increase in non communicable diseases (NCDs), including cancers, strokes and heart diseases – and their risk factors, such as alcohol and tobacco.
According to the Deputy Health Minister, this tax increase is one of many policy measures discussed by the government to prevent health risk factors such as alcohol use which fuel the NCDs tsunami in Ghana.
Already, Ghana has a national alcohol policy and a national policy on NCDs. Taxes on tobacco have been increased by some 175%. The Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) Coordinator, Mr. Labram M. Musah, a member of IOGT International, said the toll that NCDs take on citizens and by extension, Ghana as a country, leaves no room for doubt as to the importance of the government increasing efforts in the area of tackling NCDs and the risk factors.
…we could save 22,000 lives annually if we implemented the WHO Best Buys of prevention and control of NCDs,” said Mr. Labram M. Musah, Ghana NCD Alliance (GhNCDA) Coordinator and Programs Director at Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), as per, Ghana News Online.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) Ghana Country Representative, Dr. Owen Kaluwa states, NCDs kill approximately 40million people globally each year, accounting for 70% of all deaths. About 15 million of those deaths are in people between the ages of 30 and 69. Low and middle-income countries are particularly affected by NCDs with more than 80% of all deaths from NCDs occurring in these countries.
Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) mainly comprise cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. Alcohol use is one of the main risk factors of NCDs along with tobacco use, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
Alcohol harm in Ghana
Alcohol harm is significant for youth in Ghana. WHO reports almost 50% youth alcohol consumers between 15 to 19 years engage in heavy episodic alcohol use, this is despite the legal age for alcohol use being 18 years. 7.3% Ghanaian men suffer from some alcohol use disorder which is higher than the WHO African region average. Ghana is also ranked on the high end for years of life lost due to alcohol.
In this view, the plans for a tax increase is a positive step to preventing and reducing harm from alcohol and in tackling the current NCD tsunami.