By Francis Kagolo
The finance ministry has been asked to increase taxes on cigarettes in the next financial year.
Health state minister Dr. Richard Nduhuura said increasing taxes on tobacco was the most effective way to control smoking.
Nduhuura was speaking at the opening of a workshop on smoking at the Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala recently.
He said high taxes would reduce the number of smokers and deaths that accrue because of smoking.
Tobacco is among the leading sources of revenue for the Government. In the 2005/2006 financial year, the Government increased taxes on cigarette from sh19,000 ($10.63) to sh21,000 ($11.75) per mille ( 1,000 cigarettes).
Currently, a stick of cigarette costs between sh100 and sh250, but anti-smoking activists say the price is too low to discourage smoking.
â€œThe best thing to do would be to ban smoking entirely,â€ Nduhuura said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco smoking is the leading cause of cancer and heart disease. It kills more than five million people globally each year.
The organisation warns that the deaths will reach 10 million by 2030 if countries do not take serious action.
Nduhuura also urged the Government to compel companies producing cigarettes to change the size and content of the health warnings inscribed on packets to match the WHO framework Convention on Tobacco Control which Uganda ratified in 2007.
â€œWe cannot continue offering lip service,â€ he said.
â€œThe message should be changed from â€˜Tobacco can be harmful to your healthâ€™ to â€˜tobacco kills,â€ Nduhuura added.