A CALL has gone to the government to raise taxes on cigarette to discourage its production and distribution in the country.
The Executive Director of Ghanaians for Tobacco-Free Society, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mr Musah Abdei Shafai, who made the call at the celebration of the World No Tobacco Day in Kumasi, said the current tax regime on the product was not the best, weighed against the health of the people.
“I think at best taxes should account for between two-thirds and four-fifths of the retail price of cigarette,” he said.
The day, which was on the theme, “Effects of tobacco usage on the youth”, was marked with a float by schoolchildren.
Mr Shafai also called on municipal and district assemblies to consider passing laws to ban smoking in public places.
He said tobacco usage was the major cause of death in some countries and the nation needed to learn a lesson from that.
He indicated that tobacco industries, with big money to spend, had intensified their efforts to hook on new, young and potential life-long tobacco users, adding that “the health of our youth is seriously threatened by this deadly product”.
He said imposing restrictions on the sale of cigarettes to teenagers was a little difficult to implement, given that teenagers often obtained cigarettes from older people and sometimes from their parents.
The executive director called on parents to desist from sending their children to buy cigarettes for them, saying that they should rather educate their children on the hazards of passive smoking.
Mr Shafai stressed the need for the United Nations agencies to review their existing programmes and policies to ensure that tobacco control was given due prominence.
He called on children to participate in youth and community programmes so that they could channel their energies into useful ventures that would prevent them from smoking.
The Executive Director of the Frank Memorial Street Child Project, another NGO, said cigarette smoking caused prostrate cancer and the public should be wary of it.