Stakeholders have suggested an increase in taxes of tobacco products in the country to reduce its use and generate revenue for the country.
They made their views known on Saturday in Keffi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State after two days of Technical Working Group workshop on “Tobacco Taxation.”
The workshop was organised by Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa.
The Programme Officer of CISLAC, Mr Austin Erameh, said one of the surest means of addressing tobacco use and control was the use of tax and price system, which he said would also generate revenue for the Nigerian government.
He said: “Once you increase tax on tobacco products, prices will definitely go up and when prices go up, the use of tobacco product drops because there will be little money to buy.With that, an individual will have disposable income to take care of their pressing needs.”
He added that the workshop, with participants from Federal Ministries of Health, Finance, Budget and Planning and relevant stakeholders, reviewed the way forward for Nigeria and concluded that the country needed to review its tax system to reflect a more progressive system.
He urged civil society organisations across the country to step up interface withgovernment on tobacco control agenda to achieve the goal of drastic use of tobacco by Nigerians.
A participant from Federal Ministry of Health, DrTomaMalau, expressed optimism that if tax on tobacco was raised, its use would reduce and Nigerians would livea healthy life.
He, therefore, urged relevant authorities to review taxes on tobacco products.He noted that “the outcome of this workshop is incredible. The expectation is that within the next couple of months, hopefully by the grace of God, tobacco taxes should be reviewed to reduce its patronage and encourage healthy living.”
Another participant from Federal Ministry of Finance, Mr Basheer Abdulkadir, said with positive experiences from other countries, increase in taxation on tobacco woulddouble government revenue, hence the advocacy for increase.
He said: “Experiences from countries like Turkey, South Africa, South Korea, Egypt show that increase in taxation on tobacco products can double government revenue.
“We learnt that South Africa’s revenue increased nine fold between 2005 and 2009 following increase in tobacco products’ taxes.”