With 17,500 deaths recorded each year in Nigeria on account of smoking-related diseases, and prevalence rising at four per cent yearly, Kasim Sumaina writes on the need for effective implementation of control measures in the country
Though, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has inaugurated the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC). The issue of poor regulation, lack of enforcement of provisions of the Nigerian Tobacco Control Act (NTC), inadequate funding of National Tobacco Control Committee, poor regulation, lack of enforcement of provisions of the NTC Act, insufficient coordination and collaboration between government ministries, departments, agencies and strong tobacco industry interference at all levels have been deduced to be hindrances to effective tobacco control in Nigeria.
A recent survey reveals that tobacco-related deaths in sub-Saharan Africa which accounts for 25 per cent of all deaths was proportionate to the deaths caused by HIV/AIDS (12 per cent) and malaria (13 per cent) combined according to a 2012 survey. Globally, countries are putting in stringent measures to control tobacco and tobacco companies are responding innovatively.
Nigeria became party to the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in January 18, 2006. Over nine years later, the Nigerian Tobacco Control Act was passed at the House of Representatives and Senate on April 23, 2015 and May 12, 2015, respectively. Yet, more than 175, 000 deaths are recorded each year on account of smoking-related diseases in Nigeria; this translates to about 207 men and 130 women weekly (Tobacco Atlas, 2015).
In addition to the serious health consequences, tobacco usage also has significant economic cost estimated at US$591 million. Nigerian tobacco market is dominated by local production which accounts for 12.2 billion cigarette sticks out of 18.4 billion sticks consumed in Nigeria in 2015 (NCS, 2017).
Communique issued at the end of a one day Policy Dialogue on the Economics on Tobacco Control in Nigeria, held in Abuja by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), with support from the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and the University of Cape Town (UCT)’s Economics of Tobacco Control Project, estimates the impact of changes in the excise tax structure and level on cigarette consumption, government revenue, smoking prevalence, net-of-tax revenue, and excise tax burden.
The Executive Director, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA), Dr. Chukwuka Onyekwena, stated that, while tobacco control had been gaining traction in the policy circle, there was still very little evidence to support advocacy efforts.
He explained that tobacco remained the single greatest preventable cause of death worldwide with 17,500 deaths recorded each year in Nigeria on account of smoking-related diseases.
He argued that while there is a perception of relatively low smoking prevalence in Nigeria, prevalence is rising at four per cent yearly necessitating the need for the effective implementation of tobacco control measures.
Chukwuka added that tobacco taxation had proven to be the most effective tobacco measure and that CSEA’s study on the Economics of Tobacco Control which is the first of such study in Nigeria was aimed at strengthening advocacy efforts for tobacco control.
Similarly, Research Associate, CSEA, Mr. Joseph Ishaku, noted that, an average pack of cigarette costs approximately ₦183.50 in 2017 (CSEA Survey, 2017).
According to him, “In Nigeria, there is no specific tax regime on tobacco products, but a general excise tax on domestically produced items which currently stands at 20 per cent ad valorem on Unit cost of production (UCA). UCA is reported to be around ₦60 per pack of cigarette (NCS, 2017).
“Thus, excise burden amounts to 6.49 per cent, whereas, the WHO recommended a