Health minister: Govt to plough tobacco taxes to health sector
Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal governmentâ€™s new increment of taxes on smoking and alcohol yesterday received applause and commendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other stakeholders in the health sector.
Speaking at the event to commemorate the World No Tobacco Day 2018 organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, WHO Country Representative, Dr. Wondi Alemu, explained that the WHO was elated over the federal governmentâ€™s new taxes on tobacco products and alcohol which commenced yesterday.
Alemu represented by Dr. Mpazanje Rex, said: â€œAs WHO, we would like to congratulate Nigeria for the upward review of excise duty rates for tobacco amd alcoholic beverages taking effect today (yesterday) which aims to raise governmentâ€™s fiscal revenues and reduce the health hazards associated with tobacco-related diseases.
â€œWe also applaud the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to ratify the protocol to eliminate illicit trade of tobacco,â€ he said.
The WHO country representative added that â€œdespite the well known harms of tobacco to the health of the heart, knowledge among large sections of the public that tobacco is one of the leading causes of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is low.â€
Also, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, observed that tobacco was not doing any good to Nigeria in terms of profit, but causes more damages.
Adewole said: â€œTobacco companies make a lot of gains without taking responsibility for the harm they do to us. For $1 gained in tobacco, we lost $3. When you invest $1 for tuberculosis, you gain $85. There is really no gain, so we need to work together.
â€œThe increase in tax for tobacco signed by President Muhammaud Buhari is one of our best effort, we will work harder to increase that tax so that more money can come to government coffers
â€œWhile we make efforts, someone has set a target for next year for us to implement the tobacco fund, we need all of you to work hard to join us in the struggle to implement the tobacco fund so that we can plough the funds to the health sector to improve the health of our people,â€ the minister maintained.
Speaking, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe stressed that efforts are in top gear by the Federal Ministry of Health to ensure anti-tobacco policies in the country are strengthened.
The Minister of Information, Lai Muhammed, represented by Mrs. Boade Akinola, also commended the Ministry of Health for expediting action on tobacco and alcohol taxes.
Presentations were also made by the Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian Custom Service, the Nigerian Police, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), among other institutions.