Over 1.1 billion adult smoke tobacco worldwide and at least 367 million persons use smokeless tobacco products. Of this number, eight million die annually through the effect of tobacco of which over six million are by direct use and about 890,000 by exposure to second-hand smoke.
Over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed annually in Nigeria even as 15.4% of school children ages 13 – 15 years currently use tobacco in the country.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulazeez Abdullahi who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at an event to mark the 2019 World No Tobacco Day with the theme, “Tobacco and Lung Health”, said at least 50% of lifetime tobacco smokers will die before they reach 70 while the average loss of life from smoking is a full decade of life.
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He said considering the role of weighty tobacco excise tax in demand-reduction, they are canvassing with the Fiscal Authorities to raise the excise beyond the current rate so that Nigeria can be at par with the ECOWAS directive on harmonization of excise duties which prescribes ad valorem duty rate of at least 50% in addition to a specific tax rate of at least 0.02 US dollar (N7.00) per stick of cigarette, cigar and cigarillos with 20 US dollar (N7, 200.00) per net kilogram for all other tobacco products.
Abdullahi said Nigerian Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) found 4.5 million (5.6%) adults to be current users of tobacco products with the rate of exposure to second-hand smoke in public places very high at 82% in bars and nightclubs, 36.3% in coffee shops and 29.3% in restaurants.
He observed that although there is no reliable national data on the number of death caused by tobacco in Nigeria, estimates from the Tobacco Atlas sixth edition show that over 16,100 persons are killed every year in the country as result of tobacco-related diseases, which are predominantly non-communicable diseases (NCD).
He commended the National Assembly for supporting tobacco control through legislative instruments adding that the National Tobacco Control Regulation is a good start for tobacco control even though some of the clauses are different from what NATOCC and FEC had proposed to the National Assembly for approval.