The Tobacco Free Association of Zambia expresses its heartfelt congratulations to His Excellency, President Hakainde Hichilema, for the successful debt restructuring negotiations with the country’s official creditors committee. This significant achievement brings much-needed relief to Zambian economy.
Tobacco-related health expenditures in Zambia amount to ZMW 2.8 billion annually, which is equivalent to 1.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Increasing excise taxes on tobacco products has proven to be a highly effective measure in reducing tobacco use and generating government revenue for national development priorities.
The 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, supported by United Nations Member States, recognizes the importance of price and tax measures on tobacco as an underutilized resource for financing national development efforts.
In Zambia, revenue from tobacco taxes can be directed towards strengthening the budgets of crucial institutions such as the Ministry of Health, National Cancer Hospital, National Heart Hospital, and high-referral specialist teaching hospitals, which currently operate with minimal funding.
While tobacco taxation alone may not fully offset the national debt, increasing tobacco excise taxes will ensure that national resources are not allocated to preventable health expenditures caused by tobacco use.
Compared to other consumer products, tobacco products in Zambia remain highly affordable. Implementing a specific excise tax structure that includes annual adjustments for inflation and income growth, as recommended under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 6 guidelines, will yield significant health and economic benefits for Zambia.
Additionally, streamlining the tax system to be uniform across all tobacco products, including the removal of current incentives for locally-produced cigarettes, will further enhance the advantages of excise tax increases.
Lastly, the enactment of a comprehensive Tobacco Control Act is of utmost importance to safeguard the health and wealth of the country.
By prioritizing these measures, Zambia can make significant progress in reducing tobacco use, improving public health, and advancing national development objectives.
The Tobacco Free Association of Zambia commends President Hakainde Hichilema for his leadership in successfully restructuring the country’s debt and encourages continued efforts to address the impact of tobacco use on public health and the economy.