Coalition seeks implementation of sugary drinks taxes | Dailytrust

Coalition seeks implementation of sugary drinks taxes

The National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR), a coalition of organizations advocating for policy measures to tackle the health risks of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, has called for the immediate implementation of the sweetened beverage tax law introduced via the Finance Act in December 2021.

According to the coalition, implementing the sweetened beverage tax will save public health and create economic value as Sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks) contribute significantly to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria, including type II diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

“A single soft drink bottle contains staggering amounts of sugar, up to 12 cubes. Soft drinks are also a major contributing factor to tooth decay and obesity, a risk factor for a host of chronic diseases. A Euromonitor report lists Nigeria as the 4th highest consumer of soft drinks in the world,” a communique at the end of the coalition meeting in Abuja said.

It said that the NCDs have far-reaching economic effects with a significant cause of premature death in people under 40 years and that NCDs have the chilling capacity to cut lives short in their prime.

They said that this is a setback to economic productivity as an estimated 12 million people in Nigeria suffer from diabetes mellitus and based on an average cost of illness of $400.52 per person per year, the national cost of treating diabetes in a given year is approximately US$4.8bn, excluding the cost of lost productivity.

“The same study that estimated the cost of illness per person also showed that for majority of the patients, the cost of illness was over 25 percent of their annual income. These expenses come to nearly N37,000 a month, more than half of an average Nigerian’s monthly earnings of N60,000,” the communique said.

It added that this also amounts to more than 10 times the budgetary allocation for health per citizen.

It said, “Such high healthcare costs signify that many people who can afford to buy soft drinks cannot afford to treat the chronic diseases associated with drinking them.

“Evidence from a nationally representative survey conducted in June 2021 by the coalition, NOI Polls and Research Hub Africa found that 54 percent of Nigerians support the sweetened beverage tax, provided it is used to improve healthcare outcomes.

“Growing evidence shows that health policies, such as taxes on sugary drinks can discourage consumption and prevent their adverse health effects.

“The coalition recognizes the effort of the Minister of Finance to introduce the tax as a

step in the direction that should be accompanied by an implementation mandate. This

fiscal intervention in the form of an excise tax will promote healthy choices and if

earmarked accordingly, can provide much-needed revenue to subsidize diabetes

treatment costs and control of other NCDs,” the coalition said.

Members of the coalition are Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society, Breast Without Spot, Lafiya Wealth Initiative, TalkHealth9ja, Nigeria Health Watch, Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative; and African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD).

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