By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
A Civil Society Organisation (CSO) National Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has called on the federal government to immediately operationalise the tobacco control fund.
The CSO was worried that despite the National Tobacco Control Act passed in 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations in 2019, the federal government has not given teeth to the laws.
Speaking at a press conference recently in Abuja, to draw attention of policy makers, Board Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi said the Tobacco Control Fund as established by the National Tobacco Control Act
2015, is a necessary tool for sustainability of tobacco control efforts in Nigeria.
He said the Federal Ministry of Health and other critical MDAs as a matter of urgency, should see to it that the fund is operationalized without further delays.
“A percentage of the taxes, and other levies from tobacco and tobacco products should be earmarked for the Tobacco control fund.
“The seeming interference of the Tobacco industry in operationalization of the fund should be stopped immediately.
“Government should be intentional in making budgetary provisions towards Tobacco control activities in the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Health should start the collection of the licensing fees from tobacco products stakeholders for the fund without further delay.”
He added that sustainable funding of tobacco control will help in reducing the death and diseases associated with tobacco smoking in Nigeria and delays means the nation will lose more of it citizens to tobacco addiction.
Speaking further, he said the operationalization will provide needed resources for the implementing agencies to be able to carry out timely and proactive interventions required for the successful implementation of tobacco control policies in the country.
“Section 8 of the National Tobacco Control Act establishes the Fund. The Fund is to be managed by the National Tobacco Control Committee comprising of several MDAS and a representative of civil society. Section 8 (2) of the Act and Sections 23 and 26 of the Regulations provide that annual budgetary allocation, gifts, donations, testamentary dispositions, subventions, license fees and proceeds of sale of forfeited items shall go into the Fund.
“Article 26.2 of the WHO FCTC requires parties to provide financial resources in respect of their national activities under the Convention in accordance with its national plans, priorities, and programmes. Nigeria is a signatory of this convention and had rectified it since 2005.”
Speaking on some of the benefits of the fund, the board chairman said it will provide reliable, dedicated, and protected source of funding for specific programs, treatment of tobacco related diseases, and other tobacco control priorities.