Kenneth Afor with agency report
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Tax Justice Network for Africa (TJNA) have urged the government to impose heavy tax levy on tobacco products so as to curb government’s expenses spent on health implications from tobacco intake in the country.
Members of both groups made this call at a one-day workshop on: “Supportive Effective Tobacco Control Through Responsive Tax System,” in Calabar, Cross River state.
Peter Unekwu, a resource person, revealed that the sum of $800 million dollars is being lost annually to tobacco smoking which has resulted to low productivity and death and that it is far above the country’s annual fiscal plan.
Unekwu also stated that a survey released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Nigeria Global Adult Tobacco Survey showed that smokers in Nigeria spend at least N89.5 billion annually on tobacco from 20 billion sticks consumed.
Okeke Anya, project manager, CISLAC made a comparison that Nigeria’s tax levies on tobacco product is way lesser than the United States’ (US) levies on tax on tobacco products.
Anya, citing the inadequacies of the country’s National Tobacco Law 2015 urged the government to review the yearly N20 tax levy on 20 sticks of tobacco products and to take a cue from countries like the United Kingdom and the US who have a better tax system of a $3 tax levy on tobacco products, which is about N900 yearly.
He, therefore, suggested that if heavy tax levy is imposed on tobacco products it would reduce the number of smokers in the country thereby reducing government’s burden on spending fortunes treating tobacco related cases.