Doubling The Tax On Tobacco-Free Alternatives Will Double Smokers

by Business Watch Team

The 108 percent tax increase on nicotine pouches will deprive Kenyan smokers of their best chance to kick their deadly habit, the Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA) warns today.

In the Finance Bill, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani revealed plans to more than double the excise on tobacco-free nicotine pouches from Shs 1,200 to Shs 1,500 per kg. The average tax increase for excisable goods was 10 percent with nicotine pouches being the only product hit with a 108% increase.

“Prohibitive taxes on nicotine pouches and e-cigarettes are putting these safer options out of reach of millions of smokers who are desperate to quit,” says CASA chairman Joe Magero.

CASA chairman Joe Magero says: “Mr. Yatani’s unscientific notions contradict international evidence and threaten to deprive Kenyan smokers of their best chance to kick their deadly habit.

“International research shows that alternative nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches, are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes, which release dangerous toxicants through the burning of tobacco.

“This increase is regressive in so many ways,” says Mr. Magero. “As well as making safer alternatives unaffordable, the tax sends the message that they’re just as harmful as traditional cigarettes, even though they are helping to reduce tobacco’s toll in more progressive countries around the world.

“There is growing evidence that Kenyans wish to use products like pouches and e-cigarettes to cut their reliance on tobacco. Instead of putting obstacles in their way, the government should be ensuring that these scientifically-proven safer alternatives are more accessible and affordable.”

A newly released 11-year study by University College London dispels the myth that e-cigarettes, or vapes, are a gateway to smoking for young people. It found that while vaping rates have increased over time among young people, smoking prevalence has fallen and there was no significant relationship between the two.

“This is yet more evidence that Kenyan health policymakers should be embracing e-cigarettes and nicotine pouches to help desperate adult smokers to quit,” says Mr. Magero.

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