Civil society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) has called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to increase taxation on Tobacco products as part of measures to control it’s use among Nigerians
CISLAC said, the prevalence of consumption of the harmful products continues to further stretch the already overwhelmed Health facilities in the country.
Executive Director of the Organization Auwal Musa Rafsanjani at a media briefing in Kano on Tuesday, calls for more concerted efforts on the part of government to control the use of such products.
”This will not only promote the health of individuals but will also reduce the burden of the cost of health care on both government and households”
Auwal Rafsanjani whos was represented by the CISLAC Tobacco taxation project manager Solomon Adogah said, for many years, the organization has been championing effective tobacco taxation regimes in Nigeria.
”As a global tool for the control of tobacco use, effective tax administration on the products posses a double-edged advantage to the health and economy of nations, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco use kills 6 million people each year, and this could rise to 8 million by 2030 if the global epidemic is left unchecked. Tobacco use has also been identified as the major risk factor for over 80% of premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases, WHO also estimated that 30,000 Nigerians lose their lives yearly due to illnesses caused by tobacco. This is much more than the 3,000 lives claimed by COVID-19 during the three years of the pandemic”
Solomon Adogah also said, studies have shown that the poorest households, especially in low-income countries spend as much as 10% of total household income on tobacco alone, thereby significantly reducing the amount of money available for other basic items such as food, education and healthcare.
”Again, the WHO has directly pointed to this as a contributor to malnutrition, increased healthcare costs and lower standards of living”
He said, in Nigeria, the burden of tobacco use is even more aggravated by the limited access to health care, and Nigeria continues to lag in implementation of its commitments under the global Universal Health Coverage (UHC) with less than 5% of the population having any form of health insurance coverage.
”Most Nigerians bear the full financial cost of health care as data shows that out-of-pocket expenditure represents about 75% of total health spending in the country. What this further means is that those without money are unable to access health care in the country”
CISLAC also lamented over the budgetary allocation to health which it said has continued to fall short of the African Union Abuja Declaration to pledge 15% of total annual budget to health as a requisite for improving health care services and delivery in the continent. Since adoption of the declaration, Nigeria is yet to achieve 6% of total allocation to health and thereby contributing little to improve the state of health care in the country
”Interestingly, CISLAC is aware and impressed that President Bola Tinubu specifically mentioned in his manifesto where he promised to increase health care funding in the country through improved budgetary allocation and categorically identifying consumption tax on harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol as viable tool to mobilize resources for health financing”.
”CISLAC hopes to remind the President of this very important campaign promise and urges the president to as a matter of urgency put the machinery running to implement effective tobacco tax regimes in Nigeria. It must be noted that, Nigeria remains one of the leading tobacco markets in Africa, with its young and growing population a constant attraction to the tobacco industry. Government must move to protect its young people and children by ensuring it does not succumb to the interference tactics of the tobacco industry that only aims to undermine effective tobacco control in the country”