A tobacco levy expected to address public smoking and advertising is in the offing says the Minister of Health Reverend Dr John Seakgosing in his budget proposal speech.
He said his ministry has been working on 'the repeal of the Control of Smoking Act of 1992 and the 2004 amendment.'
Seakgosing said that his ministry has proposed a tobacco control act that will address current problems such as easy accessibility, public smoking, advertising as well as other requirements of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that Botswana ratified in 2005.
He said that through the act, a levy would be introduced to address the harm to public health that results from tobacco use.
Meanwhile, Bontle Mbongwe, spokesperson for the anti tobacco movement in Botswana has praised the ministry for the development saying it is a step that they have long expected from the government.
She said that they have been strongly advocating for this move especially that most countries have been raising taxes in tobacco products to control its use.
Mbongwe said that research has shown that if taxes in tobacco products are increased their consumption levels get reduced. "If you increase taxes in tobacco
"There is a general consensus that every 10 percent increase in real prices of cigarettes will reduce the overall cigarette consumption by approximately three to five percent," she revealed. She said that this would also reduce the number of young adult smokers by 3.5 percent. "Especially our school going children. Cigarette sticks cost between P1.50 and P1.75 and young people can easily afford this, she said."
Mbongwe said that they also want the government to start licensing of tobacco products, a practice which would regulate tobacco sales just like alcohol is regulated.
"For example, every kiosk at University of Botswana sells tobacco products than alcohol. This makes it easily accessible and affordable more so that it can be bought as single sticks. This needs to be regulated if the government is to succeed in controlling the use of tobacco products," she said.