Tobacco Control Fund: Provide sources of the monies, details of previous spendings, NTCA tells health ministry

Nigeria Tobcco Control Alliance (NTCA) has called on the Federal Ministry of Health to provide an update on the status of the Tobacco Control Fund detailing the current balance, sources of the monies in the fund including previous spendings from the fund.

The chairman, Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, while briefing newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja on “Effective funding for Tobacco control in Nigeria” also reminded the federal government government that the National Tobacco Control Act stipulates that funds allocated for tobacco control in the national budget or from other sources are to be remitted to the Tobacco Control Fund account for utilization.

He expressed concern that limited funding hinders the comprehensive implementation of measures outlined in the National Tobacco Control Act, which are designed to tightly regulate tobacco products and tobacco use in the country, and ultimately reduce the burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases in Nigeria.

He further expressed concern about Nigeria’s frail health system, and the lean pocket suffered by many Nigerians, adding that the federal government ought to prioritize financing the enforcement of tobacco control measures to ensure that diseases associated with tobacco products are prevented.

According to him, another critical concern is whether the monies previously budgeted were released into the fund account.

As an Alliance, he commended the N10 million Naira allocation for local tobacco control efforts in the 2024 national budget as a slight improvement compared to the 4.7 million Naira allocated in the 2023 national budget.

“However, it must be emphasized that this amount still falls below expectations, especially because we know that while it looks like the figure has gone up, there is almost no difference from last year’s allocation when Nigeria’s hyper-
inflation is considered,” he said .

He further raised concern of whether all tobacco companies have been fulfilling their obligation of paying for operating licenses after gaining approval to operate in Nigeria.

He said it is imperative that tobacco companies comply with this requirement, as it serves as a crucial regulatory measure to monitor their operations and ensure their adherence to established guidelines.

He expressed concern that allowing tobacco companies to operate without licenses not only poses a health hazard due to the harmful nature of their products but also bleeds the country of revenue and undermines the regulatory framework and efforts to control tobacco use in the country.

According to him, it is time for the Federal Government to consider earmarking tobacco tax as a dedicated source for financing tobacco control enforcement efforts in the country.

He said by earmarking tobacco tax for tobacco control measures, the government can establish a funding mechanism that directly aligns with the objectives of ending tobacco consumption,preventing tobacco-related diseases, and promoting public health.

He said earmarking tobacco tax for tobacco control initiatives ensures that the burden of funding these critical programs does not fall solely on the government’s general budget.

Also, the programme manager NTCA, Chibuike Nwokorie said the government need to be very serious in addressing these challenges and called for effective operational fund to tackle thes challenges.