By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance(NTCA),has called on the Federal Government to increased tobacco tax,for tobacco control and Health coverage in Nigeria.
This was disclosed during a press briefing on Increase of taxes for tobacco control.
The Board Chairman of the NTCA,Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi said that,the World Health Organization(WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has recommended about 70% of tax increase while Nigeria is still currently around 20%.
Ouleafemi,said it had become very vital for government to increase taxes on tobacco seeing that,over 20billion people in Nigeria consumes single stick of tobacco yearly.
He said “When the tobacco control tax has be effectively implemented fully,the FCTC will be a fundamental tool for reducing the devastating global consequences of tobacco products on health,lives, economies and environments.”
He stated that, increase in tobacco tax, increases prices of tobacco products are the most cost effective policy for tobacco use reduction.
Adding that, Tobacco tax increase also increases revenue,effective tobacco tax increase present a win-win policy for public revenues and public health .
According to him,the Nigeria 2018 budget has about 3.9% allocated to health which is a great reduction from the African Union (AU)Abuja declaration of 2001where at least15% of the budget was declared.
This shows a critical underfunding of the crucial health sector, tobacco tax increase provides an easier solutions to this problem.
While citied examples of countries that have earmarked for tobacco control and universal coverage ,Ghana,Congo, Egypt, Madagascar, Cote d’Ivoire,Cape Verde,Comoros and Philippines among others .
Consequently, Project Coordinator Olu’Seue Esan, emphasised that, earmarking provides a great opportunity for low and middle income countries to makes a huge progress in huge progress in the development of the health sector and indeed for effective tobacco control efforts.
Esan averred that, indequate funding has been the bane of tobacco control in Nigeria over the years and the time has come for Nigeria to face this challenge headlong by earmarking for tobacco control.
The Project Coordinator pointed out that ,this is what we are demanding from the government;NTCA is asking the federal government, to commence process of earmarking a significant fraction of tobacco taxes and levies for tobacco control and national health coverage.
“Secondly,we are calling on government to set up and ensure the continuous funding of the national tobacco control,that way we can be sure that tobacco control efforts by the government can be effective, sustainable and impactful”;hesaid .
Meanwhile, “we will never be tired of asking the government to continue, to significantly increase tobacco taxes. The present tax regime is insignificant and insufficient to lead to price increases and will definitely not reduce consumption.
The Government must significantly increase tobacco tax to be at par with the WHO recommended level of 70% of the retail price over the next five years”;Esan maintained.