…Calls for 70% tax increase on tobacco
By Gabriel Ewepu and Alice Ekpang
THE Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, NTCA, disclosed that 246 men die weekly from tobacco related diseases in Nigeria. This was made known by the Board Chairman, NTCA, Akinbode Olufemi, during a media briefing in Abuja while presenting report titled: ‘Survey To Assess Nigeria’s Progress On SDGS-3 As It Relates To Tobacco Control’.
Oluwafemi lamented that the morbidity and mortality caused by tobacco use in the country is currently causing huge loss to socio-economic development, which has affected individuals, families and the country at large.
According to him the report identified gaps to achieving SDGs as it relates to tobacco control and the recommendations to provide stakeholders the much-needed facts for advocacy, campaigns, and programming, as well as guide decision makers.
He also explained that findings of the survey conducted by the NTCA was basically to ‘Assess Government Commitment and Nigeria’s Progress towards Achieving the Strategic Development Goal (SDGs) with emphasis on Goal 3 as it relates to Tobacco Control’.
He further stated that the SDGs being a United Nations initiative was formally adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2015 in a resolution entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’
He also said for 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved over a 15-year period (2015-2030), there is need for collaboration for countries to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.”
He also asserted that the SDGs kicked off on vibrant footing globally with several countries demonstrating political will and actionable steps toward achieving the goals. Not surprisingly, reducing tobacco use stands out among global efforts to achieve the SDG target of reducing premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by one third by 2030.
Many of the 17 Goals have a direct or indirect relation to tobacco control. The implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) is one of the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 3: to promote healthy lives and wellbeing for all people at all ages.
He said: “The Nigerian government said it started implementing the SDGs almost instantaneously, following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda at the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, by creating institutional frameworks at the national and sub-national levels to support active implementation.
“This is the fifth year since the initiative commenced and there is need to look at where Nigeria currently stands in terms of achieving the targets. If we recall, Nigeria faltered in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which was the precursor of the SDGs.
“To avoid a similar feat, the NTCA and other critical stakeholders felt it was necessary to embark on a survey to enable us to know if we are on track as a nation in achieving the SDGs or not. To do this, deliberately, the NTCA and partners zeroed in on Goal 3: To promote healthy lives and wellbeing for all people at all ages, as entry point.
“Tobacco use as we know, is one of the greatest contributors to ill health, deaths, and economic dislocation, which combined, impedes the attainment of general wellbeing. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2012 revealed that 10.0% of men, 1.1% of women, and 5.6% overall (4.5 million adults) use tobacco products in Nigeria. The Tobacco Atlas puts adult tobacco use at 13.7%, accounting for more than 7 million adults in 2015.
“Tobacco may be responsible for up to 246 deaths among men weekly in Nigeria. With the morbidity and mortality caused by tobacco use in the country, the loss in economic terms to individuals, families and the country is better imagined.”
He also explained how the report was conducted, “To arrive at factual conclusions, the NTCA conducted the survey through a structured online questionnaire administered online and in hard copies. The responses were gathered and qualitatively assessed for accuracy. It identifies gaps to achieving SDGs as it relates to Tobacco control and the recommendations provides stakeholders the much-needed facts for advocacies, campaigns, and programming, as well as guide decision makers.
In the processes, leading to our findings, critical stakeholders who played crucial roles include the Nigeria Youth SDGs Network which has been working closely with the NTCA. NTCA is also grateful for the support received from the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) and the Norwegian Cancer Society (NCS).
He expressing optimism about recommendations about the report he said, “We are confident that the findings will provoke thoughts and create the much needed avenue to make informed decisions, advocacy visits and engagement with stakeholders.
Some of the recommendations include, sustain public enlightenment on the sustainable development goals and the benefits therein; Increase and sustain funding as a show of commitment and seriousness; Increase the taxes of tobacco to 70 per cent of retail prices in line with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control FCTC recommendation; Tax should be earmarked for SDGs goal3.
The recommendations also added that government should enshrine fiscal responsibility and prudence for SDGs related projects, SDGs interventions must source for local and indigenous workers so as to drive community ownership.
“Institutionalize SDGs implementation interventions and make actionable plans to achieve every target at the local levels, Establish peer review mechanisms among the State on SDGs and effective national framework for Monitoring and Evaluation using the civil society.
“Engage the local government across the nation on the SDGs; continuous capacity building for SDGs frontline workers at all levels, document potential gains of SDGs and share the same with citizens, embark on community engagement and mobilization for inclusion and ownership of SDGs projects. (We must leave no one behind).”