Local anti-tobacco lobbies have taken the government to task over its apparent reluctance to enforce tobacco control and taxation.
This is on the back of new data that shows tobacco-related deaths stood at 8,100 in 2019 compared to road fatalities, which were estimated at 3,572.
Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) Senior Policy Analyst Boaz Munga said the State stands to benefit from an additional Sh4.4 billion annually by applying a uniform tax for the industry.
This translates into a uniform tax of Sh3,500 per 1,000 cigarettes, a big boost to Sh12.236 billion cigarette excise revenue, according to the Economic Survey 2020.
“Effective taxation may provide the needed resources to reduce the estimated Sh200 billion gap in financing universal health coverage and covering the societal costs of tobacco use estimated at Sh2.978 billion annually,” said Munga.
He said the tax burden would simultaneously increase for all categories of smokers, more so the lower end of the market.
This would see the average retail price of cigarettes increase by up to 12.2 per cent annually, while the excise tax share of the retail price would rise to 43.3 per cent, occasioning sales volume or consumption to decrease by 5.7 per cent or by about 14.1 million cigarette packs annually.