NAIROBI, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan lobby groups on Tuesday urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to sign a bill that aims to increase the cost of tobacco and alcohol.
The lobby groups said that tobacco and alcohol tax reforms are a win-win policy measure that achieves public health goals and raises domestic resources to expand fiscal space for priority investments and programs that benefit the entire population.
"We do hereby call on the President to assent to the Finance Bill 2019 to give force to the increment of public health tax on tobacco, alcohol and processed sugars and fats," said Emma Wanyonyi, chief executive officer of International Institute for Legislative Affairs.
She said the products cause harm and lead to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and death when used in the intended mode as designed by the manufacturer.
"Tax and price measures are one of the most effective NCDs control measures due to their potential to discourage initiation, encourage quitting of tobacco and alcohol as well as generating much-needed revenue for public service, "said Wanyonyi.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its recent global health report said that four out of 100 deaths in Kenya are linked to excessive alcohol intake.
Achieng Otieno, head of communication and digital advocacy at Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance expressed support for measures that were announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Finance in his 2019 budget speech to increase the rates of excise duty on cigarettes, wines and spirits by 15 percent.
"The increase is in line with WHO best practice recommendations for regular increase in excise rates as well as annual adjustment for inflation to prevent erosion of the real value of the excise tax on harmful products," said Achieng.
Kenyan campaigners said the country stands a better chance of realizing the Universal Health Coverage if taxes on tobacco and alcohol are increased.