Nigeria: FG to increase tobacco tax as minister insists on strict enforcement

Nigeria: FG to increase tobacco tax as minister insists on strict enforcement

NHF, WHO tackle government over sales

The ministries of Health as well as Finance, Budget and National Planning are working together to upwardly review taxes on tobacco in a bid to make the product unaffordable.

This comes as the Federal government has warned the tobacco industry against the introduction of electronic smoking devices, which are falsely claimed to be less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

It stressed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) disclosed that a shisha user inhales the equivalent of about 100 cigarettes during a single session.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at the briefing to mark the 2021 World Tobacco Day yesterday in Abuja. He said that tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable risk non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

He said increasing excise tax on tobacco products to make it more unaffordable is an easy way to discourage tobacco use, adding that in 2018 Nigeria introduced a three-year tobacco tax regime, which has increased over time to a cumulative 20 per cent value duty.

While the government contemplates a high prohibitive tax regime, the Nigerian Health Foundation (NHF), World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Association of Nigeria (UNAN) blamed Nigeria for the weak implementation of measures to stop sales of tobacco.

The Executive Director of NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, noted that it was the responsibility of the Nigerian government to implement all regulations to combat all forms of tobacco in the country.

A report presented by the Chairman, NHF Tobacco Committee, Dr. Olukemi Odukoya, revealed that among men who smoke daily, more than one-third smoke less than five cigarettes a day, which causes around seven out of every 10 cases of lung cancer.

She said: “All forms of tobacco are harmful, and there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco. In Nigeria, among men who smoke cigarettes daily, more than 38 per cent smoke less than five each day while 33 per cent smoke five to nine cigarettes. Eight per cent daily cigarette smokers smoke about 15 sticks each day.”

Meanwhile, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned Nigerians over the use of Shisha, cigarettes and all forms of tobacco as it is prepared to take the war to the market through meaningful collaboration and sensitization.

According to the Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye who was represented by Mr. Sherif Olagunju, Nigerians have adopted shisha, which is equivalent to 10 sticks of cigarettes, increasing their risk of lung problems.

Director, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, maintained that the most effective steps towards getting people to quit are removing factors the encourage youths to go into smoking. Oluwafemi said there was an urgent need to implement WHO-FCTC compliant laws and policies.

Source: The Guardian