Lobbyists oppose national treasury move to lower taxes on plain cigarettes

Lobbyists oppose national treasury move to lower taxes on plain cigarettes
  • Rotich suggested a two-tier tax structure of Sh2, 500 for every 1,000 sticks of filtered cigarettes and Sh1, 800 for every 1,000 sticks of plain cigarettes.
  • Previously, all cigarettes were taxed equally at Sh2, 500 per mille.
  • Tobacco is the biggest known preventable cause of at least 13 types of cancers, which kill more than 15,000 Kenyans every year.
  • Statistics by the Ministry of Health indicate that smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and brain complications.

Lobbyists have petitioned National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich opposing the plan by the government to lower taxes on plain cigarettes.

Under the banner of Consumer Information Network, the more than five lobby groups have protested Rotich’s move saying the proposal if implemented, prices of unfiltered cigarettes could decline by 28 per cent, making them more affordable to poor and vulnerable Kenyans.

“This means cigarettes will become more available to children, youths and vulnerable members of our society who are already adversely affected by the economic and health effects of tobacco use,” Consumer Information Network Chief Executive Officer  Samuel Ochieng’ said in a letter to the cabinet secretary yesterday.

While reading the budget on Thursday last week, Rotich suggested a two-tier tax structure of Sh2, 500 for every 1,000 sticks of filtered cigarettes and Sh1, 800 for every 1,000 sticks of plain cigarettes.

Previously, all cigarettes were taxed equally at Sh2, 500 per mille.

“This will create equity and fairness in the tobacco industry and prevent job losses in the sector,” Rotich said.

Statistics by   the Ministry of Health indicate that smokers are also more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and brain complications.

Tobacco is the biggest known preventable cause of at least 13 types of cancers, which kill more than 15,000 Kenyans every year.

In the recent past, the government recently enacted strong legislation to discourage smoking.

READ MORE: Health ministry moves to control packaging, advertisement of cigarettes

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