NTCA Tasks Government On Tobacco Control For Sustainable Development
NTCA Tasks Government On Tobacco Control For Sustainable Development – The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has urged the Federal Government and all signatories to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) to include control in their development agendas.
Chairman of NTCA Board, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who spoke in company of the Programme Manager, Oluseun Esan, said this while briefing the media yesterday in Lagos, insisting that including tobacco control in sustainable development goals (SDGs) was imperative since tobacco is known for its addictive nature and induces poverty and diseases on its users.
He said evidences abound that the tobacco industry has embarked on an unrelenting attack on developing countries like Nigeria, adding that the tobacco menace is prevalent in Low and Middle Income (LMIC) countries due mainly to weak laws, demographic dynamics and the political influence tobacco corporations wield while doing their harmful businesses.
“Tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure continues to harm people globally. Those harmed are often vulnerable and include children, those living in LMICs and those with existing diseases. As noted by the WHO in 2017, nearly 80 per cent of those who smoke live in LMICs.
“In 2015, leaders from 193 countries came together and created the SDGs. The 17 goals imagine a future that would be rid of poverty and hunger, as well as a world free from the worst effects of climate change just 15 years after,” he said.
Oluwafemi stressed that reducing tobacco use plays a major role in global efforts to achieve the SDGs target to reduce premature deaths from Non-Communicable Diseases(NCDs) by one third in 2030, adding that most of the 17 goals have a direct or indirect relationship with tobacco control.
Speaking further he noted that tobacco makes kids to drop out of school, while many children become orphans and discontinue schooling when their parents die from tobacco-induced illnesses, stressing that at a wider scale, countries lose valuable resources due to NCDs, which are largely caused by tobacco use.
“Till date, Nigeria remains one of the few countries with the cheapest tobacco retail prices. A packet of 20 sticks of cigarette still cost N250 in Nigeria compared to 7 pound in the United Kingdom (UK) or $10 in the United States (U.S.).
“This is largely due to low taxes and excise. Thus, it becomes affordable to the poor and the youths who are the most vulnerable. The cycle then starts with addiction to tobacco followed by sicknesses. These keep families impoverished, loss of loved ones to untimely death, which is antithetical to SDGs,” he added.
The NTCA, therefore, charged the Federal Government to increase the excise duty on tobacco products to the extent that tax revenues realized from the increase could be used to fund SDGs priorities and tobacco control.
It also urged all relevant government agencies to immediately start enforcing the provisions of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act, 2015.