The Nigeria Tobacco control Alliance, NTCA, has faulted the non-budgetary provision for the tobacco control fund in the 2021 budget.
The NTCA Alliance coordinator, Oluseun Esan, at an interactive session with stakeholders in Abuja, lamented that the development was in breach of the national tobacco control Act 2015 and the national tobacco control regulations 2019.
Mr Esan, therefore, called on the federal Ministry of Health and Finance, Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and relevant agencies like the budget office to prevail on the National Assembly to make budgetary provision to fund tobacco control in country.
According to him, such provisions can be made through taxes, subvention from any of the governments of the federation and gift, donations and license fees for tobacco manufacturers and marketers.
Also speaking, the Deputy Director, Environmental Rights Action, ERA, and member steering of the NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, warned that the non-implementation of the tobacco control Act could lead to astronomical rise in deaths associated with the COVID 19 disease.
He added that tobacco control fund, when operationalized and fully in operation, will not only reduce the burden of healthcare cost and production losses among Nigerians but will equally avail government the much needed resources to manage the aftermath of tobacco use and other health concerns among Nigerians.
Mr Oluwafemi said: “The call is clarion and urgent. Government should prioritise healthy and well-being of her people. Government should walk the talk and give cadence to her commitment to tobacco control.
“Absence of a single budget line for tobacco control in 2021 is suggestive of how unprepared we are as a nation to tobacco control and this ugly narrative must change to spice up the efforts of the federal Ministry of Health who are obviously overweighed.”
In his part, the NTCA’s Project advisor, Michael Olumide said it was unfortunate that the N7 billion allocation to the health sector in the 2021 budget was far below the African Union benchmark for member nation.
Citing a world health organization, WHO, projection that a whooping sum of $ 7 trillion would be required globally to treat tobacco related diseases like lung cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes by 2025, he urged the authorities to make monies available for the control of tobbaco consumption in the country.
Speaking in the same vein, the regional coordinator for West Africa Campaign for Tobacco-free kids, Hilda Ochefu, argued that the operationalization of the tobacco control fund would expedite the enforcement of the tobacco control Act.