By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) said there is an urgent need for the federal government to increase tobacco taxes to 70% of retail prices in line with the WHO -FCTC recommendation, which said the tax should be earmarked for sustainable development goals(SDGs) goal 3.
The group made this known to newsmen during the launching of the report on survey to access Nigeria ‘s progress on SDGs-3 as it relates to tobacco by NTCA recently in Abuja.
The NTCA board chairman Akinbode Oluwafemi and project coordinator Olu’Seun Esan in statement said from the survey five years down the drain,the report revealed that Nigeria government is a part of the SDGs initiative and the commitments therein are binding on the country.
However, they mentioned the widening gap and disconnect between commitments and implementations as priorities of government to the SDGs which they said are passive, inadequate or not inclusive.
“The poor level of awareness and sensitization of citizens is disturbing as this is needed to ensure ownership of SDGs initiatives from the grass-roots.
“Though a good number of respondents claim to be aware of the SDGs for reasons largely connected to its infiltration in public and social discourse, only a few have in-depth understanding of what it entails and the targets projected to achieve.”
They said Interestingly, majority of the respondents knew that Goal 3 of the SDGs is more related to Tobacco control but they opined that ineffective legal and institutional framework will continue to make good health and well being for all unrealistic.
The group in their recommendations said government must enshrine fiscal responsibility for SDGs related projects by institutionalizing SDGs implementation interventions and make actionable plans to achieve every target at the local levels.
While calling on sustained public enlightenment on sustainable development goals, the group, reiterated the need to establish peer review mechanisms among the States on SDGs relying on an effective national framework for Monitoring and Evaluation to document potential gains of SDGs and communicate same to state and non states.
National Tobacco Control Alliance and other stakeholders gathered findings from the public through structured online questionnaires with a view to assessing the level of progress made by Government in this regard.