By Bukar Bolori
Nigerian government has been asked to increase the tax on tobacco to meet the Article 14 of the World Health Organisation (WHO) which pegged it at 75 percent.
Addressing a press conference to mark the World No Tobacco Day, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa lamented that the present tax of 20 percent on tobacco is too low to increase the price of cigarette and make it expensive for people to buy.
He said the federal government should copy the tax regime on tobacco in Europe which is as much as 70 percent to stop many Nigerians from purchasing the “poisonous” substance.
He said Nigeria needs to fully subscribe to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCT) cost effective measures for effective tobacco control known as MPOWER that include measures such as monitoring, protecting, offering, warning, enforcing bans and raising taxes on tobacco.
He said while Nigeria has put in place mechanisms for implementation of some of the FCTC measures, lamenting that unfortunately the measure of adopting cessation programmes designed to offer help for smokers to quit remains largely underutilized.
He decried that: “As the country continues to delay on implementation of cessation programmes, the tobacco industry is already miles ahead in investing massively in strategies and technology aimed at initiating young people to their products as they are eager to flood Nigeria and the rest of Africa with new products like e-cigarettes, misleading brandishing them as quit aids and harm reduction products.”
He called on government at all levels in Nigeria to invest in
promoting cessation, by developing evidence-based, cost-effective strategies and guidelines, and allocating adequate resources for programme’s implementation.
He said free counseling must be provided for those that are eager to quit and also for those that has quitted.
He decried that surveys have found that even though 80 percent of smokers would want like to quit smoking, less than five percent are able to quit on their own due to the highly addictive properties of nicotine
Musa revealed that over 1.3 billion people in the world use tobacco, and over 80 percent of this population live in low and middle income countries where the burden of tobacco-related illness and death is very high.
He said data has shown that 18 billion cigarettes sold annually
and that 16,100 deaths arising from tobacco use annually in Nigeria.