Group Calls On FG To Implement Tobacco Control Fund

Nigeria launches tobacco control data dashboard

Group Calls On FG To Implement Tobacco Control Fund

Group Calls On FG To Implement Tobacco Control Fund:

The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance group has called on the Federal Government to put the tobacco control fund into implementation. 

The NTCA said the fund will help to reduce the impact of tobacco in the country.

Nigeria is reportedly a member of the 182 parties to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control who have pledged to take action to reduce the impact of tobacco in their countries.

Speaking at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, the Chairman of the group, Oluwafemi Akinbode said sustainable funding is critical to achieving the objective of the WHO FCTC.

Akinbode said, “This is what informed the inclusion of the provision to establish a Tobacco Control Fund in the NTC Act, 2015, to ensure the protection of public health from the destructive effects of tobacco in Nigeria.”

According to him, the Federal Ministry of Health through the Permanent Secretary, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Disease Division, Dr. Dolapo Sanni promised to make the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational within one month.

He said, “We have watched and waited patiently to allow the ministry enough latitude to make good their promise. 

“However, we are no longer at ease as it is now over two months since that pledge was made without any sign of fulfillment.

“The continued delay in the operationalisation of the fund is tantamount to self-injury on the FG. Revenue that should accrue to the fund from the issuance of licenses to tobacco manufacturers and distributors is being lost. 

“Also, the unavailability of an operational account for the payment of licensing fees makes the operations of tobacco manufacturers, importers, and distributors in the country illegal, as the companies have no licenses to back their operations. 

“It is also deeply concerning that the tobacco industry with its awful public health implications is indirectly being granted a ‘license-free-holiday’ and is allowed to operate in Nigeria without licenses because of the government’s continued failure to make the Tobacco Control Fund operational.

“It is not a secret that tobacco control activities in the country are grossly underfunded and this ugly delay negatively impacts important tobacco control work.

“The tobacco industry has continued to dangle monies before the government in the guise of corporate social responsibility. The Tobacco Control Fund will give the government the impetus to do what it needs to do and to call the bluff of the ‘Greek gift’ from the Tobacco Industry.”

Akinbode urged the Ministry of Health to step up to its responsibility and make the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational as soon as possible.

Adding, he said “The Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance, and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation must also play their roles in the setting up of the account to ensure that the revenue loss is closed, and the Fund is running as prescribed by the NTC Act, 2015.

“Nigeria has lost a lot of funds that should accrue to it through licensing of Tobacco Industry players. This is one of the dangers of not having the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational. This dangerous delay must stop.”

Also speaking, the Research Associate, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, Austine Iraoya said the inability to operationalise tobacco control funds by the government gives the tobacco industries a free-for-all process and it promotes illegal manufacturing and sales of tobacco in the country. 

“Nigeria made a commitment to the Tobacco Control Act and part of the commitment is to have funds dedicated for tobacco control and these funds are not things we are asking the government to diversify, these are funds that should be generated from the tobacco industry.

“Looking at it, the inability to operationalise tobacco control funds gives the tobacco industries a free for all process and it promotes illegal manufacturing and sales of tobacco in Nigeria. It also promotes illegal exports and the revenues that should be gathered for their operations are lost and we can’t continue to pay lip service to it,” he said. 

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