Consumers of e-cigarettes will burn a hole in their pockets to enjoy the product once the Treasury adjusts the excise duty on liquid nicotine to Kes70 per millimeter.
In the 2022/23 budget tax proposals, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani seeks to make the addictive product less accessible to users including school-going children and the youth.
“Nicotine addiction is growing in Kenya and the use of these products leads to nicotine addiction and consequently smoking and use of other drugs,” he said, adding “in the financing, this kind of “science,” the industry’s motive is of course financial gain, power and influence and not the health of our young ones.”
The use of tobacco remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability and death across the world.
In Kenya, it is responsible for the growing burden of non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, chronic lung infections, and killer heart diseases.
According to the Ministry of Health data, tobacco accounts for roughly 9,000 Kenyan lives every year.
An e-cigarette, also known as an e-cig, e-cigar, or vape pen, is a long tube that usually resembles a cigarette, pen, or pipe.
E-cigs have a mouthpiece, a heating element, a rechargeable battery, and electronic circuits.
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“The design of e-cigarettes and their taxation regime makes them easily accessible to users including to school children and the youth, thus leading to nicotine addiction and consequently smoking and use of other drugs,” noted Mr Yatani.
A major review on the health effects of e-cigarettes conducted by the Australian National University shows that public health advocates have feared escalating use of e-cigarettes in school-aged children, early warning signs of increased smoking rates in young Australians, and direct health harms of vaping in all ages.
Overall, it found the health risks from e-cigarettes significantly outweighed any potential benefits.
Last year, the World Health Organization said Kenya is among the countries where a high number of smokers are quitting the habit.
According to the global tobacco trends report, at least 20 million people stopped smoking in the last five years.
The report further indicates that by 2025, at least 50 million more smokers will stop the habit, with the prevalence dropping to 1.27 billion.