The Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has urged the Federal Government to operationalise the Tobacco Control Fund as recommended in the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 in the interest of the nation’s wellbeing.
The alliance which made the plea on Friday in Abuja, noted that dearth of funding was hampering tobacco control efforts in the country.
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Project Coordinator NTCA, Mr Olu’Seun Esan, said that this necessitates the need for the government to act in such a way that would ensure the full and successful implementation of the NTC Act.
While commending the stakeholders’ efforts that led to the signing and gazette of the NTC Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019, he reminded the government that operationalizing the tobacco control fund will assist in tobacco control programming in Nigeria.
Another alliance member, Mr Ogunlade Olamide Martins, stressed the need for sustainable funding for Tobacco control in Nigeria and decried the absence of budgetary allocation to tobacco control in the 2021 budget.
He lamented that N547bn earmarked for the sector only represented seven per cent of the entire budget, which he said was far below the African Union government’s declaration at the Abuja Summit in 2019 which recommended 15 per cent of national budgets to be allocated to health.
According to him, after dissecting the national health budget, each Nigerian was only entitled to N2,735 going by the current population figure of 200 million.
On his part, Board Chairman, NTCA, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, reminded the government of the worrying link between COVID-19 and tobacco use.
He said that the present happenings present government the best opportunity to invest more in tobacco control and ensure that efforts are further geared to ensuring that taxes levelled on tobacco products in form of excise duties and VAT have a portion of them channelled into tobacco control fund.
On her part, Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, Mrs. Hilda Ochefu, also called for the operationalization of the tobacco fund, stressing that the tobacco control fund will help deepen Tobacco Control in Nigeria.