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NTCA: Tobacco Usage Hampers Attainment of SDGs

According to the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), continued usage of tobacco in Nigeria was seriously undermining the country’s efforts to attain key aspects of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals.

It also regretted that budgetary allocation to tobacco control had plunged by 50 per cent to N4.7 million in 2023, from N9.4 million the previous year, thereby slowing down tobacco control activities in the country.

Addressing journalists in Abuja, yesterday, the Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said tobacco use had continued to impede the realisation of the SDGs, especially Goal 3, that has to do with good health and wellbeing, Goal 11 relating to sustainable cities and communities Goal 12 that ensures responsible consumption and production, Goal 14 – life below water, and Goal 15 pertaining to the sustenance of life on land.

“Nigeria adopted the SDGs and integrated them into her development framework since the launch of the SDGs in 2015. While optimistic analysts may argue that some progress has been made towards the attainment of the goals, it is undeniable that we are still a long way from hitting the mark. Tobacco use has and continues to impede the realisation of the SDGs, specifically, Goal 3; Good health and well-being, Goal 11; sustainable cities and communities, Goal 12; responsible consumption and production, Goal 14; life below water, and Goal 15; life on land.”

Oluwafemi recalled that during the recently concluded 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA, it was evident that only 15 percent of the SDGs were on track to be met, necessitating calls for cash and commitments from member nations to rescue the stalled development goals.

He said persistent advocacies had been made for the allocation to the health sector to reach the recommended 15 percent to address critical deficits.

Read Also: NTCA Urges Tinubu To Implement Tobacco Control Laws

However, Oluwafemi said although the government for the first time, voted over 1 trillion Naira (accounting for 5.75 per cent of the entire budget sum) to the health sector in the 2023 Appropriation Act, only N4.7 million was allocated for tobacco control for the year.

“We had noted that it was a step in the right direction. Regrettably, the allocation to tobacco control plunged by 50 per cent to N4.7 million in 2023, from N9.4 million in the previous year. This unfortunate slash of funding from the national budget has slowed down tobacco control efforts in the country, whilst threatening the gains painstakingly made through the years. “It is evident that there are competing priorities in the health sector, underscoring the need to funnel monies to deal with critical issues. This is why tobacco control funding must be expressly prioritised because tobacco is a major contributor to global non-communicable diseases burden.

“Today, Tuesday, September 26, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is expected to declare war on global drug trafficking at the 31st meeting of Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies in Africa. This declaration will be made here in Abuja.

“We commend this move by the President, and we encourage him to make tobacco control a key strategy in combating the drug abuse scourge. This will deal with one of the root causes of drug use among our youths for the reason that tobacco is a known gateway to the use of hard drugs,” he said.

Oluwafemi said that NTCA expects that as National Assembly members resume deliberations on the 2024 Appropriation Bill, they will pay close attention to the proposed budget for Tobacco Control, and significantly increase the amount to deal with myriad issues occasioned by tobacco use.

On his part, Project Manager, NTCA, Nwokorie Chibuike, said the Alliance was urging state Ministries of Finance and Health, State Assemblies, and governors should complement federal government funding efforts by creating a budget line for tobacco control in their states.

“Institutionalising tobacco control funding and following through with 100% release of budgeted sums will boost the implementation of life-saving provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, and its Regulations of 2019.”