* Says heart related disease, others kill 38 million people worldwide
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has disclosed that in spite of the vigorous campaign to end the use of tobacco in the country, about 4.5 million Nigerians still stick to their smoking habit.
Adewole, who was speaking during a press briefing to mark the 2018 World No Tobacco Day, said that beside the 5.6% of the adult population addicted to smoking, the country is losing $800million annually to stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
The Minister said that the projected accumulated loss to tobacco was put at $7.6billion in 2015. He said, “Let me draw attention to the fact that tobacco use is responsible for huge economic losses emanating from both direct and indirect medical costs. It is estimated that Nigeria loses $800 million annually to stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
“In 2015 the projected accumulated loss to tobacco was put at $7.6 billion, paradoxically, the tobacco industry makes huge profits without taking responsibility for the harm they do to public health. Evidence also shows that for every $1 gain from tobacco business about $3 is expended on healthcare cost”.
Calling for increased awareness on the impact of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke on cardiovascular health, Adewole said data from 2014 World Health Organisation, WHO – NCD Global Status Report revealed that heart related diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease killed 38 million (68%) persons out of the 56 million global deaths recorded in 2012.
He said, “Globally, there are more than 1 billion smokers, and more than 7 million people are killed by tobacco annually. Of this, more than 6 million die from direct tobacco use, and close to 900,000 from exposure to second-hand smoke. I must add that the low and middle income countries including Nigeria bear nearly 80% of the global burden.
He described as unfortunate that more than 40% of these deaths occurred before the age of 70 years.
The minister said, “It is generally agreed that tobacco will kill more than 50% of its users when used exactly as recommended by its manufacturers”.
Adewole used the occasion to announced the new tax increase of N20 per pack of 20 sticks of cigarettes to N40 per pack in 2019 and subsequently, N58 per pack in 2020 with effect from June 4.
“Although the tax increase is below the ECOWAS tax directive of at least 50% ad valorem plus USD 0.02 per stick of cigarette, cigar and cigarillos (or USD 20 per net kilogramme for all other tobacco products), I believe Mr. President will lead ECOWAS in implementing this directive within a shortest possible time to move Nigeria near the WHO recommended tax increase that is equivalent to 70% of retail price of tobacco products”, Adewole added.
He further called on Nigerians to support the Federal Ministry of Health in order to form a formidable force to defeat tobacco and avert heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease.
Revealing the strategic plan of the ministry to curb the menace to a barest minimum, the Minister listed the strategy to include; Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies; Protecting people from exposure to tobacco smoke by creating 100% smoke-free indoor and outdoor public places and Enforcement of comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship amongst others.
The representative of the WHO in Nigeria, Dr. Wondi Alemu, had earlier in his goodwill message, stressed the need to eliminate tobacco use, noting that by doing so, it will help to prevent millions of people of dying from Cardiovascular disease.
Represented by Dr. Mpazanje Rex, the WHO called on the federal government to hasten it’s move in the passage of the regulation to enforce the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 as well as the enforcement of the act as announced by the HMH at the last WNTD.
He further reiterated the continued support of the WHO to enable the country achieve full implementation of the WHO framework for Tobacco Control.
The 2018 World Tobacco Day, which has the theme “Tobacco and Heart Disease, had representatives from the Ministries of Information, Finance as well as other relevant stakeholders in the health sector.