CSOs urges govt. to raise tobacco taxes to promote health, save lives
By Ahmed Ahmed
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Civil Society Organisations in Bauchi State have urged governments at all levels to raise tobacco taxes to promote health care services and as well save lives of the citizens in the country.
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, who was represented by Murtala Mohammed, Senior Programme Officer made the call at the civil society meeting on Tobacco Control Taxation on Wednesday in Bauchi.
He noted that there were a huge number of citizens at risk as a result of tobacco smoking, saying the death toll continues to rise from non-communicable diseases in the country.
Rafsanjani said that cigarettes were still very affordable in which disparity in income level trumps the price difference.
“There is a need for policymakers to pay closer attention to cigarette affordability rather than just nominal prices in adjusting excise tax on tobacco products and to generate more revenue.
“It is important to sustain the conversation for tobacco taxation beyond mere revenue collection and generation but to also channel these resources to improve the health sector in Nigeria,” he said.
On his part, Mr Solomon Adogo, Senior Programme Office, CISLAC, said that the only solution to reducing tobacco-related deaths is for the government to astronomically increase tax on tobacco products.
“As recommended by the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), which identified tobacco taxation as an effective tool for tobacco control.
“With the implementation of the tobacco tax regime from 2018, Nigeria commenced efforts to implement the ECOWAS directives on tobacco taxation and the WHO FCTC recommendation.
“Continuous increase to outpace inflation would increase government revenue for health financing and also reduce spending capacity of tobacco users.
“Therefore, resulting in reduced prevalence of tobacco and its resultant health effects.
Adogo stressed that excise taxes were the most effective tax measure for promoting health because they change the price of a harmful product relative to other goods and can be easily increased over time.
“Consumption is reduced best with taxes based on specific taxes on unhealthy products such as sticks and packs of cigarettes,” he said
Also Speaking, Hajiya Jamila Sule, Civil Society Organizations (CSO) said imposing a tax on tobacco would not only promote citizens’ health but also reduce the cost of healthcare for both government and households.
She pointed out that Nigeria is yet to achieve six per cent of total allocation to health, thereby contributing little to improve the state of health care in the country.
“Amid the poor state of health care in the country, the prevalence of consumption of harmful products, such as tobacco,“Continues to further stretch the already overwhelmed facilities in the country and call for more concerted efforts on the part of the government to control the use of such products,” she said.