Government at all levels have been called upon to come up with a tax regime that would up the selling price of tobacco and as such reduce the use of it by unsuspecting poor Nigerians who are already in excruciating situations as a result of the dangers posed to their health by cigarettes.
The call was fallout of a press briefing on tobacco and sustainable development which held in Lagos Tuesday by the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, NTCA, following perceived unrelenting attack by tobacco industry on developing countries like Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Board Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi advocated for more stringent legislations to be imposed by government at different levels to checkmating the level at which the vulnerable have access to the use of tobacco.
Even as Oluwafemi hailed the recent increase in tobacco tax and excise, he added that the jack up was low and insignificant in the face of the lingering health havoc being wrecked by the killer scourge.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, tax policy amounting to 75 percent excise tax burden, he noted, would yield a larger decrease in tobacco usage most especially among the poor.
“Thus the government should introduce more radical tax policies for tobacco products. While we welcome the new Acting Minister of finance on board, we want her to seriously consider raising the excise tax on tobacco to be at par with the WHO’s recommendation,” he said.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda of July 2015 has identified the enormous burden that non-communicable disease place on developed and developing countries and recommended a comprehensive strategy of prevention and control, price and tax measures on tobacco which can be an effective and important means to reduce tobacco consumption and health care costs and represent a revenue stream for financing for development in many countries.
Nigeria is one of the few countries with the cheapest tobacco retail prices as a result of low taxes and excise
Oluwafemi is of the opinion that inflation in the price of tobacco will have positive impacts on the poor and particularly the youth who are most vulnerable