Some researchers have said that 23,838 deaths and 602,325 DALYs from smoking attributable diseases would be averted in 10 years if the price of tobacco cigarettes was raised by 75 percent as recommended by WHO.
They gave their separate submissions on Wednesday during a Report Dissemination Workshop on Illicit Tobacco Trade in Nigeria held at International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan.
The workshop was organised by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa(CSEA).
Dr Adedeji Adeniran, a Senior Research Fellow at CSEA, called on the government to think deeply around tobacco taxation and other tobacco control policies towards reducing its burden as well as havoc
Adeniran, who presented the report of a 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 500 billion naira on tobacco attributable diseases.
“And if we look at what we are benefitting, it is not in anyway going to approach that.
“This exercise we are doing today in Ibadan, we are trying to talk directly to the public and we are also trying to talk 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.
Mr. Iraoya Augustine, a Research Associate from CSEA, said that illicit trade in terms of tobacco trade was rampant in Nigeria, saying the most effective mechanism to address it is 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 percent.
“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 revealed that death rate, cancer and rate of contracting disease would be reduced if tax rate was increased by 25 percent.
According to him, “let’s talk about increasing it to 50 percent or 75 percent, 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.”
Dr Adeniyi Olabumuyi from 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 been 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 carry luxury tax like it was in the developed countries.
Participants at the workshop supported the need for all stakeholders including government to take action towards reduction of smoking attributable diseases.