The Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (CSEA) and Amaka Chiwuike Uba Foundation (ACUF) on Thursday said that Nigeria’s health system spends N526.4 billion on treatment of tobacco-related illnesses annually.
The Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), made this known during a one-day stakeholders’ report dissemination workshop with the theme; “Health Burden and Economic Cost of Smoking in Nigeria’’ in Enugu.
Presenting the research paper, the Executive Director of CSEA, Dr Chukwuka Onyekwena, noted that tobacco companies contribute less than N100 billion to Nigeria Gross Deposit Point (GDP) yearly.
According to Onyekwena, N526.4 billion is being spent annually by government and individual Nigerians to tackle tobacco-related diseases.
He regretted the alarming death rate caused by tobacco in Nigeria with estimates of 28,876 deaths annually.
The executive director suggested in his presentation that increased taxation on tobacco companies would be the best measure to reduce the number of sokers and increase the revenue generation of the country.
He charged the stakeholders to focus on the reduction of consumption of tobacco by taking the campaign to schools and grassroots, adding: “It will be difficult to convince an addicted person to quit smoking’’.
Onyekwena said, “Tobacco smoking is a health challenge that incurs huge cost.
“It is the duty of CSEA to respond to such issues and provide evidence that can lead to policy discussion and change.
“Through the vigorous and comprehensive report, we were able to expose the cost of neglected incidence of tobacco smoking by spending over N526.4 billion yearly in a period Nigeria is battling to reduce wastages, including expenditures in irrelevant areas.
“Nigeria is spending more than the resources it gets from tobacco due to tobacco-related health challenges.
“Increase taxation for tobacco companies is the most effective ways to reduce smoking and tobacco consumption as well as increase in public revenue.
Speaking at the event, Lead Researcher and Executive Director of ACUF, Dr Chiwuike Uba, said that they would take the campaign against consumption of tobacco to a larger populace.
Uba promised that the body would take the report of their research to lawmakers to allow them make policies, enact laws and enforce it.
According to him, most people do the wrong things they do because they do not have the right knowledge.
He said, “What this research and dissemination workshop will do is that we should take it to a larger populace who are indulging in all sort of tobacco consumption and tell them the dangers inherent in their actions.
“We have seen more than 10 diseases that are associated with tobacco smoking.
“We will sensitise the youth, our major target, through small video clips on social media, radio programmes and also engage the policy makers to make policies, enact laws and enforce it to make sure right thing is done’’.