2 September 2022
By Onyebuchi Ezigbo, This day
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has made a case for the operationalisation of the Tobacco Control Fund in order to ensure the protection of public health from the destructive effects of tobacco in Nigeria.
It said the Central Bank of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Finance and the office of the Accountant General of the Federation must play their roles in setting up of the account to ensure that the revenue loss was stopped as prescribed by the NTC Act, 2015.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, the Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi said
Nigeria has lost a lot of funds that should accrue to it through licencing of Tobacco Industry players.
He said Nigeria was one of the 182 parties to the World Health Organisation framework convention on Tobacco Control that pledged to take action to reduce the impact of tobacco in their countries.
He explained that sustainable funding was critical in pursuing the objective of protecting the citizens from hazardous effects of tobacco.
“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,” he added.
He recalled that during the ministeral press briefing commemorating the 2022 World No Tobacco Day, the Federal Ministry of Health made an important promise to make the Tobacco Control Fund fully operational within one month.
Oluwafemi said the group has 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 fulfilment.
“The continued delay in the operationalisation of the Fund is tantamount to self-injury on the federal government. Revenue which 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 licences to back their operations,” he said.
NTCA boss said it was deeply concerning that the tobacco industry with its awful public health implications was indirectly being granted eight ‘license free holiday’ and was allowed to operate in Nigeria without licences 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.”