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Blame Poor Taxation For Increase In Smoking – Expert

Catherine Agbo

31 January 2010

The ever growing rate of active smokers in the country has been linked to the inability of the federal government to impose heavy taxes on tobacco products, which have consequently made the price of the products easily affordable for all.

This was the position of an expert on Tobacco Control, Akinbode Oluwafemi who was speaking at a one-day workshop organised for journalists on the role of the media in the campaign against smoking of cigarette in public places in FCT held in Abuja.

Akinbode posited that if heavy taxation could be imposed on tobacco by the federal government, the cost of production will increase and this will invariably lead to the increase in the price of the products thereby discouraging youths from smoking.

He said, “A pack of cigarette that sells for N200 in Nigeria goes for about $5 in the United States of America due to the heavy taxation placed on the manufacturing companies and I can assure you that smoking is a sure gateway to drug addiction.

Akinbode who described smoking as a major risk factor for different cancers and other tobacco related ailments said it was also linked to about fifteen various cases of cancer in the human body saying “apart from the high cost of treatment, infrastructural challenges, smoking related cancers accounts for 30 per cent of cancer related deaths” . The expert who is the Programme Manager, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria disclosed that studies had revealed that cigarette contains about 4,000 toxic and cancer causing chemicals and is responsible for more than 85 per cent cases of lung cancer.

This, he added, can also lead to cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, uterine, cervix, kidney, ureter, bladder and the colon.

While urging the National Assembly to hasten the process of passage of bill on the ban on tobacco smoking in the country, he urged Nigerians to support the passage of the National Tobacco control bill as it was in the interest of all especially second hand smokers who are more at risk of infection arising from inhaling tobacco smoke.

The Secretary of Social Development of the FCDA, Habiba Kalgo while declaring the workshop open said the decision to ban smoking in public places in the FCT was necessitated by the increase in the number of deaths arising from cancer cases in the FCT.

She, however, urged FCT residents to support the ban since they were the second hand smokers who are also affected by the fumes of the products.

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