From Ayodele Samuel and Akilani Abdullah, Lagos
Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has called on the Federal government to use high taxes as an imperative measures to reduced and clap down tobacco intake among Nigerians.
According to the group, it said Nigeria is one of the few countries that tobacco’s products like cigarette is sold at a cheaper price saying Nigeria needs to use taxes on tobacco product to levels that reduced tobacco consumption.
Speaking at press briefing to mark the 2014 World No Tobacco Day with the theme “Raise Tobacco Taxes” held yesterday in Lagos, The Alliance Manager of NTCA, Mr Gbenga Ajuwon said raising the tax on tobacco will be a good avenue to generate funds by the Nigerian government.
“We strongly believe that the Nigeria government will be contributing to protecting present and future generations not only from devastating health consequences due to tobacco, but also from the social, environmental and economic scourges of exposure to tobacco by increasing taxes on tobacco products and then channeling generated funds into treating patients of tobacco-induced illness and other illnesses that currently lacks adequate funding.
“The recommendation on increasing taxes is a key endorsement of a WHO research which confirmed that higher taxes are especially effective in reducing tobacco use among lower-income groups and preventing young people from starting to smoke. A tax increase that jerks up tobacco prices by 10% decreases tobacco consumption by about 4% in high income countries and by up to 8% in most low and middle income countries.
“Furthermore, increasing excise taxes on tobacco is considered to be the most cost-effective tobacco control measure. A recent WHO report also indicted that a 50% increase in tobacco excise taxes would generate a little more than $1.4 billion in additional funds in 22 low-income countries. If allocated to health, government health spending in these countries could increase by up to 50%.” Adejuwon said.
He later urged the National Assembly to fastrack work on the repackaged National Tobacco Control Bill saying no time is too short to act rightly in saving the lives of Nigerians.
He said, “It is in the light of the above that we are urging the National Assembly to fast-track work on the repackaged National Tobacco Control Bill. We commend the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for heeding the cries of Nigerians expressed either on the pages of newspapers, on radio and television and recent poll by the NOIPolls Limited which confirmed that 9 out of every 10 Nigerians sampled demand tough legislation to stop BATN and other tobacco transnationals gambling with our lives and that of children yet born”.