Health

Stakeholders want Nigeria to lead Africa in anti-tobacco campaign

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Stakeholders on anti-tobacco have requested Nigeria to lead the anti-tabacco campaign in Africa.

The stakeholders urged Nigeria to also be at the forefront of tobacco taxation to control its consumption in Africa by putting in place substantial tax regime.

They said that by doing this the country could meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) minimum tax requirement of 70 per cent on tobacco products.

The stakeholders made their opinions known while speaking with News the Agency of Nigeria in Abuja at end of a crucial forum.

reports that the stakeholders from diverse establishments held a meeting in Abuja for the validation of report on effects of tobacco tax on consumption and affordability.

Nigeria currently has 20 per cent ad valerom taxation on tobacco products in the country, far less than the 70 per cent recommended by WHO to discourage and reduce tobacco consumption.

reports that because of the current taxation in place, consumption of products in Nigeria has not decreased, thereby prompting tobacco control advocates to question the taxation regime.

Mrs Ngufan Nwogu-Ikojo, an official of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and a participant at the meeting, said Nigeria not meeting the WHO minimum target for taxation on tobacco products has not helped Nigeria and Africa in the fight to discourage tobacco consumption.

“The 20 per cent currently in place is not only ineffective but does not speak well for Nigeria and Africa.

“Nigeria should lead by example by increasing her taxation. This will also encourage other countries reluctant to put in place huge taxation to do so.

“We are dealing with a dangerous and addictive substance and we need to regulate it more. We should lead Africa. Africa is on the average of 37 per cent. We are the big brother in Africa. It should not be the other way round.

“The lowest cost of cigarette is in Nigeria. That is why the big companies are coming here. The taxation is low and they are making lots of profit,” she said.

Mr Okeke Anya, the Programme Manager of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), said Nigeria should have put in place 75 per cent ad valerom taxation on tobacco products instead of the 20 per cent currently in place.

He added that the taxation in place in the current dispensation had not been enough to convince smaller countries that Nigeria was serious about ridding the continent of tobacco products.

Mr Seun Esan, the Programme Coordinator, Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance, also said the current 20 per cent ad valerom taxation might not be what Nigeria deserved.

Esan called on the Federal Government to take a closer look at tobacco taxation in Nigeria compared to other countries.

He urged government to also follow the minimum standard set by WHO with a view to coming out with an improved taxation that would effectively curb tobacco consumption in the country.

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