A DANISH MAXIM states that “sickness” is man’s “master”. The cruel nature of this “master” is best imagined or felt when it is chronic. Cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse are invitation to chronic illness. When cigarette smokers and alcohol abusers, knowingly or unknowingly, invite the guest – chronic illness into their lives, it becomes not just a “master” but a “cruel master”.
American Lung Association, in a report “State Of Tobacco Control 2018” gave 10 worst diseases smoking causes as: “Lung Cancer, COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], Heart Disease, Asthma, Reproductive Effects In Women, Premature [low birth-weight babies], Diabetes, Blindness [cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and over 10 other types of cancer [including colon, cervix, liver, stomach and pancreatic cancer”.
A number of health harms, including Cirrhosis of the Liver, Heart Disease, Gastritis, Ulcers and Pancreatitis are linked to Alcohol Abuse; as well as make one susceptible to infectious diseases such as Pneumonia. Globally, each year, millions fall sick or killed by cigarette smoking or alcohol abuse.
Nigerian governments, past and present, made attempts to stop the sales, marketing and consumption of tobacco products and prevent millions of people from either falling sick or dying from cigarette smoking or alcohol abuse related diseases.
Lagos State government, in Nigeria’s South-West, enacted and passed into law a bill that banned cigarette smoking in designated public places and vehicles in January 2014. A fine of N10, 000 or three months imprisonment or both, for first offenders, was provided for in the law.
No smoking areas in the law include, among others, Hospitals, Public Transportation, Restaurants, Schools, Libraries, Museums, Day-Care Centers and Public Toilets. Owners or operators of such public places, by the law, are to inscribe “No Smoking” signs on such places to enlighten and prevent smokers from violating the law.
Nigerian government, at the national level, promulgated the National Tobacco Control Bill, NTCB 2009, a wider-range law to regulate manufacturing, advertising, distribution and consumption of tobacco products in Nigeria. These laws seem not to have deterred Nigerians from smoking at public places. Perhaps, due to non-implementation of the relevant laws.
Globally, pragmatic and consistently sustained efforts are being made to cut back, event stop cigarette smoking. World Health Organization, WHO, indicates that tobacco kills more than seven million people every year and costs the global economy over $1.4 trillion, annually, on healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.
“But tobacco control is about more than preventing deadly cancers, heart diseases and respiratory diseases. In addition to posing a serious threat to health, tobacco use also threatens development in every country on every level and across many sectors — economic growth, health, education, poverty and the environment — with women and children bearing the brunt of the consequences”, WHO said.
November 2017, Isaac Adewole, Nigeria’s Health Minister, indicated that government would raise taxes on tobacco to further serve as disincentive for smoking. Investors in tobacco products, see Nigeria is an untapped market and very keen on investing on tobacco in the country.
Monday, June 4, 2018, Kemi Adeosun stated that new excise duty for alcoholic beverages and cigarette earlier approved by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, comes into effect.
According to Adeosun, in 2018, a stick of cigarette will attract N1, which will be N20 per pack of 20 sticks. In 2019, tobacco will attract two naira tax per stick or N40 per pack of 20 sticks. In 2020, tobacco tax moves higher at N2.90 per stick or N58 per pack of 20 sticks of cigarette.
Adeosun said Nigeria’s cumulative specific excise duty rate for tobacco still remains comparatively lower than that of some African countries, despite the increases. She said it is 23.2 percent of the price of most sold brand, against 38.14 percent in Algeria, 36.52 percent in South Africa and 30 percent in Gambia.
New specific excise duty rate for alcoholic beverages cut across bear and stout, wines and spirits for three years – 2018 to 2020. Bear and Stout will attract 0.30k percent per [cl], in 2018 and 0.35k per [cl] in 2019 and 2020. Wines will attract N1.25 per [cl] in 2018 and N1.50k per [cl] each in 2019 and 2020; while N1.50k per [cl] was approved for spirits in 2018, N1.75k per [cl] in 2019 and N2 per [cl] in 2020.
Nigerian government need to move further than increasing taxes on cigarette and alcohol. In line with World Health Organization, WHO, government need to “rise to the challenge of beating tobacco by adopting measures that reduce demand for this deadly product”, so as to “promote a healthier, more sustainable world”.
At the national, state and local governments, it becomes necessary to implement existing laws on cigarette smoking, and create sustained awareness on the deadly effects of cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse.