The Consortium for Economic and Social Research (CRES) pleaded Tuesday in Dakar, Senegal, for increased taxation of tobacco products in the West African region so as to significantly curb smoking.
“In the countries of the ECOWAS area, taxes excluding VAT represent only 30% of the average selling price of cigarettes against 62% on average in the European Union, whereas the Framework Convention against tobacco of the World Health Organization ratified by all 15 member states, indicates in its article 6 that this rate must be equal to at least 70%,” Abdoulaye Diagne, the Executive Director of CRES said.
He was speaking at the opening of the regional conference for the dissemination of research findings of phase 2 of the Action Research Project on Tobacco Taxation in West Africa, being held in Dakar.
During this two-day meeting, the countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will try to harmonize their strategy on raising taxes on tobacco products in an attempt to reduce their consumption.
“Tobacco consumption is only declining significantly and continuously in countries that have adopted a policy of strong and steady increase in the selling price of tobacco products through a significant increase in tax levels,” Professor Diagne said.
Lassana Sidibe, a technical adviser at Senegal’s ministry of Health and Social Action, hailed the work of CRES, whose “research findings will for sure give fresh impetus to the fight against smoking in the sub-region.”
To carry out its tobacco research project, CRES benefited from funding from Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC).
“Our contribution to this project amounts to 700 000 Canadian dollars (nearly CFA 300 million francs) for a period of two and a half years,” announced Natacha Lecours, an IDRC official.
Meanwhile, according to Salifou Tiemtore, the director of customs at the ECOWAS Commission, “the fight against tobacco smoking must be collective because no state alone can win that battle.”
In addition, he called for “the harmonization of the directives of UEMOA and ECOWAS.”
Smoking accounts for the death of six million people worldwide annually. However, a WHO forecast said tobacco will be by 2020 the leading cause of death and disability on the planet, with more than 10 million victims per year.