By Elohor Igbru
The Federal Government has launched a landmark tobacco control tool, the Tobacco Control Data Initiative Dashboard, a virtual (web-based) dashboard. which would serve as the verified database for information necessary for the implementation of tobacco control laws in the country.
The dashboard, which can be assessed on www.nigeria.tobaccocontroldata.org, contains authentic information on prevalence, taxation issues, harm, illicit trade, industry interference on tobacco use, and the use of shisha. It can also be used as an advocacy tool for stakeholders in the tobacco community to make decisions and engage with policy makers.
Speaking during the commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, disclosed that it has increased the tax on cigarettes from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in June, to dissuade Nigerians from consuming tobacco.
He said: “From the 2012 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 5.6 per cent (4.5 million) Nigerians 15 years and older currently use tobacco products of which 3.9 per cent (3.1 million) are current smokers. The result also found high and significant exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) during visits to public places with the prevalence of 82 per cent in bars/nightclubs, 36.3 per cent in coffee shops, 22.3 per cent in universities and 29.3 per cent in restaurants.
“The Tobacco Atlas 6th edition estimates that more than 26,800 annual deaths occur from tobacco-related diseases in Nigeria. Similarly, a report of studies by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, which was published in 2021, corroborated that 29,472 deaths were attributable to smoking in Nigeria.
“While efforts are ongoing at the global level to address the damages caused by tobacco use, we have not relented at the country level with so many responses. For instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria with effect from 1st June 2022, commenced implementation of a new three-year tobacco tax regime which will end in 2024. This new regime increased the Ad-Valorem tax rate from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.
“Also there is specific excise rate increase from N58 to N84 for a pack of 20 sticks which will have a continuous increase to N94 in 2023 and N104 in 2024. Shisha is also tax at N3,000 per litre and N1,000 per kilogram and would increase yearly by N500.
“ This pro health tax increase is effective and has the capacity to reduce demand and consumption of tobacco in Nigeria.”
In her remarks, the Country Lead of Development Gateway, an IREX Venture, Seember Ali, said: “This project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is being implemented in Nigeria and seven other countries. The data is a one-stop shop that has everything that stakeholders working in the Tobacco Control space will need to be able to make decisions for the advocacy for tobacco control and be able to make proper policy engagements in a way that supports the tobacco control works that the Federal Ministry of Health has already been doing.
“When we started working on the dashboard, we had already done a consultative process with all our stakeholders, where we sought to understand what are the priorities and the things that they would like to see on the dashboard. We found out that the Nigeria Tobacco Control stakeholders care about information on prevalence, taxation issues, harm, illicit trade, industry interference on tobacco use, and shisha use which we are currently conducting primary data on.
“Everything on the dashboard reflects the current needs of what the stakeholders already shared with us. We anticipate that stakeholders will be able to use this dashboard which can be found on www.nigeria.tobaccocontroldata.org. The data on the dashboard has been verified and validated by all the stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Government.”
The Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, added: “The dashboard is a milestone in tobacco control in Nigeria. As an advocate for tobacco control for close to thirty years, one of the biggest challenges we have had is getting the local data to move policy to be able to engage policy makers and government. All our data were all scattered in different formats.
“What this dashboard has enabled us to do is that we can now go to one dashboard and you have almost all that you need whether on prevalence, taxation etc. As an end-user, it makes our job way easier. You also have data that has been authenticated, reviewed and you can trust.”