Researchers from the Centre for the Study of the Economies of African (CSEA) say 23,838 deaths and other attributable diseases from smoking will be reduced if the tax on tobacco cigarettes is raised by 50 percent.
The researchers who spoke on Wednesday, in Ibadan during a Report Dissemination Workshop on Illicit Tobacco Trade in Nigeria, advised the federal government to initiate tobacco taxation and other control policies to reduce its burden.
Dr. Adedeji Adeniran, a Senior Research Fellow at CSEA, who presented the report of research on ‘Health Burden and Economic Costs of Tobacco Smoking in Nigeria’, said the country expended more on tobacco attributable diseases than it earned from it.
“In Nigeria on a per annum basis, we spend, in terms of cost basis, more than N500 billion on tobacco attributable diseases.
“And if we look at what we are benefitting, it is not in any way going to approach that.
“This exercise is to talk directly to the public and also to the government about what the costs are.
“And in this case, we want government to think more deeply around tobacco taxation and other tobacco control policies,” he said.
Also, Dr Iraoya Augustine, a Research Associate from CSEA, said that illicit trade in tobacco was rampant in Nigeria, saying the most effective mechanism to address it was to increase taxes.
“Illicit trade is rampant in Nigeria especially in terms of tobacco trade. Presently, Nigeria is using a tax rate which is far below the recommended rate of 75 per cent.
“And we have discovered that one of the most effective mechanism of addressing illicit trade according to the World Health Organisation framework is to increase taxes,” he said.
Augustine said that revelations from their research were that death rate, cancer and rate of contracting disease would be reduced if tax on tobacco cigarettes was increased by 25 per cent.
According to him, let’s talk about increasing it to 50 per cent or 75 per cent, you will discover that the issues, the economic burden and the health burden of illicit tobacco trade and smoking in Nigeria will be greatly reduced.
In his submission, Dr Adeniyi Olabumuyi of the University of Ibadan said there was need for improvement on the nation’s data gathering and recording system.
“I think the economic impact in terms of what the economy has to pay is underestimated.
“Government should tax those products so that they can save some part of that tax. That will now be involved in having to manage health-related issues that comes from indulging in such,” he said.
He said that tobacco and alcohol ought to attract luxury tax like it is in developed countries.
NAN reports that others at the workshop supported the need for all stakeholders, including the government to take action toward the reduction of smoking-attributable diseases.(NAN)