Liberia: WHO Hosts 2-Day Multi-Country Seminar on Tobacco Tax Policy and Financing

Members of the high table, including Deputy Health Minister Norwu Howard and WHO Country Representative (3rd & 4th) respectively

Monrovia – The World Health Organization (WHO) Liberia Office is hosting a two-day multi-country workshop on tobacco tax policy and sustainable health financing meeting. 

Deputy Health Minister for Administration, Madam Norwu Howard, who declared the international meeting formally opened, disclosed that Liberia has taken some significant steps in the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention of the Tobacco Control. 

“From provisions in Public Health Law of 1976, to the Tobacco & Tobacco Products Act of 2008 (when our Tobacco Control Law was redrafted in order to bring it into stricter conformity with the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), to the Regulations of 2011 – 2012, including the amendment of the Children Act of 2011, the Penal Law, and the Presidential Proclamation of 2019,” Madam Howard said. 

The Deputy Health Minister further stated that that the 2018 Excise Amendment Reform Tax Law has changed Rates on tobacco and tobacco products from what she termed as “ad valorem” to “specific”. According to her, all of these measures are ways forward and have set the stage to further increase taxes on tobacco and tobacco products, thereby generating revenue and reducing tobacco use among the general public. 

Speaking earlier, the WHO Country Representative to Liberia, Dr. Mesfin Zbelo, said over 8 million people are killed every year in the world from tobacco-related sicknesses. 

A group picture of all the participants at the WHO two-day Multi-Country Workshop on Tobacco Tax Policy and Sustainable Health Financing Meeting

Dr. Zbelo further stated that tobacco use is a major contributor to increased incidence of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases. According to the WHO Liberia boss, these diseases are the leading causes of death and disability globally.

“A significant increase in tobacco product taxes and prices has been demonstrated to be the single most cost-effective intervention for reducing tobacco use, particularly among the young and poor; this is an intervention which every country represented here must always endeavor to pursue,” Dr. Zbelo stated. 

He then pledged the WHO’s commitment to working along with all stakeholders, including the Ministries of Finance of countries around the world to support efforts to implement Article 6 of the WHO FCTC, which calls on Member States to apply price and tax measure to reduce the demand for tobacco hence reduce its consumption.

The participants at the workshop are from 11 nations on the continent, including Liberia.