The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with the Kano State Head of Service has called for heavy taxation and licensing of tobacco dealers to aid the reduction of tobacco prevalence in the state.
The call was made at a multi-stakeholders meeting which was supported by Tax Justice Network-Africa on Monday in Kano.
At the event, CISLAC suggested that both state and the federal government should implement policies and laws against tobacco in other to control and reduce its affordability.
Speaking at the meeting, CISLAC Program Officer, Solomon Adoga who spoke on ‘Understanding FCTC Price and Tax Measure for Tobacco Control’ said the framework convention on tobacco control article 6 has adopted measures on price increase and taxation to reduce the demand for tobacco products in the country.
“Tobacco has a public health effect not just to the direct consumers but also the public at large as those who inhale it from the direct users are exposed to many health damages as well, he added.
According to Adoga, statistics from World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 7 million deaths come from the direct use of tobacco, while a 1.2million death result from those exposed to the smoke.
“Tobacco smoke contains over 7000 chemicals and 69% of the chemicals are toxic and cause diverse kinds of cancer to the human body.
“In addition, over 80% of the world’s 1.1billion smokers live in low middle income and Nigeria is the third largest tobacco market in Africa.
“Tobacco has caused Environmental, health, and even economic hazard to the country.
“Statistics have proven that for every 1$ gained from the tobacco business, about 3$ is used on healthcare as tobacco damages the consumer’s organ,” he said.
However, he noted that tobacco products are not prohibited, but WHO has mandated the government to place a 70% tax on the products to reduce their demand and affordability.
Adoga stressed that the Nigerian government has only made policies to reduce the affordability of tobacco products by 30% which is way below the recommendation of WHO and this has contributed to the prevalence of the products in the country.
He stressed that all hands must be on deck at all levels to make policies, and enforce and implement the laws against tobacco prevalence.
He further said “ tobacco is a killer business and should not be taken likely” government should place more tax on them and dealers should be compelled to have licenses before being given access to sell as these will reduce its demand and prevalence in the country.
A civil society advocate from the Tauraruwa Awareness and Development Association, Abdullahi Zakari expressed commitment to working with the government and other stakeholders to develop and implement policies aimed at imposing heavy taxes on tobacco.
Earlier, the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) who was represented by the Finance and Admin Officer, Muhammad Murtala said for any strategy on mitigating the prevalence of tobacco to effectively work, more awareness needs to be created.
“One of our advocacy strategies is the involvement of more stakeholders, and the media to run programs against the prevalence of tobacco in the country,” said Rafsanjani.
Stakeholders at the meeting made commitments to working with the government to prohibit tobacco prevalence in line with the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and other policies.