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Increase Tax On Tobacco Now, Enforce Non Sale Of Cigarettes In Sticks To Reduce Deaths – CISLAC Begs FG

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Increase Tax On Tobacco Now, Enforce Non Sale Of Cigarettes In Sticks To Reduce Deaths - CISLAC Begs FG

As part of measures to reduce deaths arising from smoking of cigarettes in the country, a civil society, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has urged the federal government to increase taxation on tobacco to dissuade smokers and reduce its fatal health consequences

It also called for strict enforcement of tobacco sales and consumption, as enshrined in the Nigeria Tobacco Control Regulation of 2019 which provides that retailers must sell cigarettes in packets, regretting that retailers have continued to sell cigarettes in sticks in violation of the regulation.

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CISLAC’s Programme Manager, Mr. Okeke Anya made the call in Umuahia, Abia State capital, during a one-day training for media professionals on Tobacco Taxation with the theme “Tobacco Taxation Advocacy in Africa,” with support from Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA).

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Mr. Okeke Anya

He said selling cigarettes in sticks makes it affordable and encourages under-aged users to continue to indulge in smoking and called on enforcers to commence strict enforcement of the regulation.

He further remarked that if taxation on tobacco is increased, it will help to boost the country’s revenue generation and discourage heavy tobacco consumption as the tax would be passed on to consumers in the form of price increase.

He said, “if a company losses profit this year, it can recoup next year, but a life lost due to use of tobacco is gone forever.”

Anya insists that smoking cigarettes or taking snuff has dangerous health consequences as the true face of tobacco depicts disease, death, and horror.

Anya said that research has also shown that taking a stick of cigarette amounts to eating many hazardous chemicals as smoking tobacco causes exposure to a lethal mixture of more than 7, 000 toxic chemicals, including, at least, 70 known carcinogens that can damage nearly every organ in the human body.

He charged parents to watch their children closely as tobacco could now be carried in various types of gadgets that could be used to smoke or sniff the substance. According to him, a station (dose) of Shisha is an equivalent 100 sticks of cigarette.

“The risk of death and disease from tobacco rises with the number of cigarettes smoked but damage begins with the use of a very small number of cigarettes,” experts have said.

The CISLAC Programme Manager maintained that any amount of exposure to tobacco was harmful, adding that constant exposure of the brain to nicotine, an addictive substance in tobacco, leads to desensitization which prods the user to crave for more.

It was due to global health hazards of tobacco, he said, that the World Health Organization came up with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first public international health treaty, which Nigeria subscribed to in June 28, 2004, and ratified on October 25, 2005; same year the country passed the National Tobacco Control Act, while the Tobacco Regulation Policy came into effect in 2019.

To further draw global attention to the dangers of tobacco, World No Smoking Day is celebrated every May 31 as experts have posited that quitting smoking makes the smoker healthier.

Programme Officer of CISLAC, Solomon Adoga, took the trainees through the role of the media in tobacco control and the use of digital advocacy tools for tobacco taxation campaigns.

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Participants Group Photo

Welcoming the participants, Executive Director of Initiative for Ideal development and Emancipatory Leadership (IDEAL Nigeria), Pastor Innocent Nwokocha, said the training was organized to enlighten media professionals in Abia on tobacco taxation which is an essential component of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.

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