The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, (CISLAC) has called for an increase in taxation on tobacco as an instrument to control its consumption.
CISLAC which made the call at a seminar in Umuahia, Abia State, bemoaned the reluctance of the Federal Government to implement various tobacco tax laws.
Programme Manager of the non-governmental organisation, Mr Okeke Anya, noted that tobacco taxes could not only serve as source of revenue to government but also be an effective public health intervention to check tobacco consumption.
He argued that when prices of tobacco are shot up as a result of increase in taxation, majority of smokers especially among low income earners would stay away from the product.
The CISLAC officer who lamented the reluctance of government at various levels to control tobacco consumption despite efforts of the NGO, appealed to the incoming administration to seriously consider effective tobacco control via taxation.
Anya said, “The true face of tobacco is disease, horror and death”, adding that “cigarette smoking is the chief single cause of avoidable death across the globe.”
He further warned that, “Tobacco kills up to half of the population of its users.”
He revealed that out of the 8 million smokers who die of tobacco annually, 1.2 million of them are second hand smokers (people who are exposed to inhalation of cigarette smoke).
According to him 80% of the deaths occur among low income earners who usually lack the needed economic support to manage tobacco-induced diseases.
He disclosed that a recent study estimated that tobacco would kill up to 1 billion people in this century if no urgent measures were taken to control its consumption.
“Tobacco harms nearly every organ in the body, and reduces the smoker’s overall health and lifespan”, he regretted.
He advised parents and guardians to watch out for the novel forms of cigarette smoking like ‘shisha’, and e-cigarettes.
According to him, a session of shisha is equivalent to 100 sticks of cigarette, warning that harmful components of shisha pose serious health hazards to smokers.
He noted that cigarette contains about 7000 chemicals capable of causing cancer, and some harmful particles such as rat poison, acetic acid, cadmium used in battery production, tar, and others.
He said that a study had revealed that a stick of cigarette reduces the life of the smoker by 11 minutes.
Anya added that, “even herbivorous animals don’t eat tobacco leaves”.