CISLAC: Tax Authorities Must Implement WHO Protocol On Elimination Of Illicit Trade In Tobacco

Nigeria’s tax authorities have been urged to fully implement the World Health Organization Protocol on Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco in order to ensure blockage of revenue loss from Illicit trade and reduce affordability through cheap Illicit products.

The Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Musa in a policy Brief entitled “Financing for Health through Taxation, A Case for Tobacco Taxation in Nigeria” made available to journalists in Nigeria.

He stated that the policy recommended that Tobacco Taxes should increase alongside measures to curb illicit trade in the product, pointing out that the enormous size of Nigeria’s economy, population and neighbouring countries, makes Nigeria susceptible to dumping and illicit trade in a multitudes areas.

“The Policy recommended that since Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has the 3rd leading tobacco market in the continents. Despite this market size, Nigeria has the 3rd lowest Tobacco tax rates in the ECOWAS sub-region, making it a near tax haven for the tobacco industry which is made up of large multinationals. There is a need for the country to set taxes on Tobacco to equate with its peers in the continent”

“It also recommended that Nigeria must urgently review the tobacco tax policy to accommodate a hundred percent increase on the three-year increment regime which elapsed on June 2021.

“While this would still be far from setting Nigeria as a standard for tobacco taxation even in the ECOWAS sub-region, it would create room for subsequent reviews to ensure that Nigeria block leakages in Tobacco tax revenue and reduce the affordability of the harmful product, especially amongst children, youths and low-income earners”

“Tobacco tax review must capture emerging tobacco products such as e-cigarettes which are currently imported to the country and brandished as “Safer Alternatives”. Government should ensure proper implementation of Track and Trace system to enable tracking and tracing of licit and illicit tobacco products in the country”.

“As the government struggles to meet up the recommendation of 15 percent of total budget allocation to health financing as contained in the Africa Union Abuja Declaration, taxes from Tobacco present an opportunity to ramp up allocation to health through earmarking of percentages of revenue accruing from Tobacco taxes to health.

“Being that Tobacco use causes huge health consequences to the direct users and the public in general, this form of practice would ensure the provision of healthcare services to cushion the effect.”