Impose tax levies on tobacco, WHO charges African govts

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on African governments to impose environmental tax levies on tobacco across the value and supply chains, including production, processing, distribution, sales, consumption and waste management.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, stated this in a message to commemorate the 2022 World No Tobacco Day, which is always celebrated 31 May every year.

Dr. Moeti stated that it is to raise awareness of the negative health, social, economic and environmental impacts of tobacco production and use.

She said this year’s theme, “Tobacco: Threat to our environment”, aims to highlight the environmental impact of the entire tobacco cycle, from cultivation, production and distribution, to the toxic waste it generates.

She said they are fully committed to assist farmers to switch to alternative crops.

“Despite 24 African countries instituting bans on smoking in public places, and 35 banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, our estimates are that one in every 10 African adolescents use tobacco. The emergence of new products, such as electronic nicotine and tobacco products, are also proving attractive to youth, compounding the concerns.

“With 44 of WHO African Region’s 47 countries having ratified the WHO Framework .

Convention on Tobacco Control, which commits them to adopting effective and evidence-based measures to curb tobacco consumption, the need to address related environmental damage has seen WHO redouble its efforts to counter the overall threat.”

WHO stated that the environmental impacts of tobacco farming include massive use of water, which is a scarce resource across most of the continent, along with large-scale deforestation and contamination of our air and water systems.

“Land used to grow tobacco could also be used much more efficiently, especially in countries grappling with food insecurity.”

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