Nigerians to pay more for smoking as the government is set to increase excise tax on tobacco products by 20 per cent to 50 per cent as part of effort to control tobacco smoking in the country.
This was disclosed in Abuja by Dr Mangai Malau, Head, Tobacco Control Unit, Non-communicable Disease Division, Federal Ministry of Health, at the National Tobacco Control Budget Advocates Meeting on Tuesday.
He presented a paper titled, “Overview of Tobacco Control Funding/Budgeting in Nigeria: Why Tobacco Control Budgeting and Funding?
The Federal Government imposed a 30 per cent tax on tobacco products but its target was to increase to 50 per cent in order to meet the World Health Organization standard, Malau said.
Speaking further, he said funding for tobacco control must come majorly from taxation and there is also a need to apply tax measures rightly if they are to address the issues of tobacco control in the country.
Malau said, “in effectively controlling tobacco and tobacco products in Nigeria, funding is a critical component. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control recognises this and clearly stipulates in Article 26.
“It states that parties shall provide financial support in respect of its national activities intended to achieve the objective of the Convention, in accordance with its national plans, priorities and programmes.
“It is also important to state that funding is a major provision of the National Tobacco Control Act.
“Section eight of the Act, provides for the Tobacco Control Fund, which shall be used to fund tobacco control activities programmes and projects.”
“Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke is a leading cause of mortality, morbidity, disability and impoverishment in the world.
“It is the greatest risk factor for non-communicable diseases like hypertension, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
Malau also stated that WHO said: “tobacco causes more than eight million deaths annually around the world, with more than seven million of those deaths as a result of direct tobacco use.
“And about 1.2 million resulting from non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
According to him, tobacco smoke contained over 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds were toxic and about 70 are known to cause cancer.
“Also, there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and even a brief exposure can be harmful to one’s health.
“Concerned about the threat from tobacco, Nigeria signed and ratified the WHO FCTC, in 2004 and 2005 respectively. In 2015, the National Tobacco Control Act was enacted and its Regulations was passed in 2019.”