By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, NTCA, has said that its renewed campaign for the increase in tobacco price was to ensure that the country is at par with the World Health Organization, Who recommended level of 70 percent of retail price.
Board Chairman of NCTA, Akinbode Oluwafemi and the Project Coordinator, Olu’Seun Esan while briefing journalists in Abuja said that the budgetary allocation to the health sector was so meagre to take care of tobacco-related diseases.
The duo stated that Nigeria in 2005 ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, FCTC, adding that the framework recommended many effective ways of controlling tobacco in its various stages and protecting public health.
“Till date a lot of the recommendations of the FCTC which Nigeria is a signatory to is yet to be implemented by Nigeria. One of the recommendations of the FCTC is about 70% tax increase while Nigeria is currently around 20%.
“When effectively implemented, the FCTC is a fundamental tool to reduce the devastating global consequences of tobacco products on health, lives, economies and environments.”
Continuing, they said, “Inadequate 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.
“Our Asks: Firstly, now that Nigeria has approved the tobacco control regulations which will make it possible for the Federal Ministry of Health to implement and enforce the Nigeria Tobacco Control Act, 2015; we ask that the Federal Government should commence the process of earmarking a significant fraction of tobacco taxes and levies for tobacco control and national health coverage.
“Secondly, the national Tobacco control Act 2015 provided for the setting up of the tobacco control fund, up till this day it has not been implemented; we equally call on the Government to set up and ensure the continuous funding of the national tobacco control fund. That way we can be sure that tobacco control efforts by the Government can be effective, sustainable and impactful.
“Thirdly, 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.”