When Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Wednesday said that the government might increase tax on tobacco, it was met with mixed reactions.

He said the increase will be part of deliberate measures to check abuse and prevent smuggling of tobacco products into the country but some Nigerians did not find that funny.

But the Youth Action on Tobacco Control and Health (YATCH), an NGO, has lauded the Federal Government’s plan and advocated its quick implementation.

Mr Seye Omiyefa, the Executive Director of the NGO, made the commendation in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.

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“I will like to commend the efforts of the minister of health toward reducing the rate of people dying due to tobacco-related diseases.

“One of the ways to achieve this is by increasing tax on tobacco products.

“It is no longer news that every year Nigeria loses all cadres of manpower and all categories of statesmen and leaders to tobacco-related deaths,” he said.

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He said research showed that higher taxes were effective in reducing tobacco use among low income groups and in preventing young people from starting to smoke.

“Tax increase that raises tobacco prices by 10 per cent decreases tobacco consumption by about four per cent in high income countries and by up to eight per cent in most low and middle-income countries.

“Furthermore, increasing excise tax on tobacco is considered to be the most cost-effective tobacco control measure.

“The World Health Organisation Report 2010 indicates that a 50 per cent increase in tobacco excise tax will generate a little more than US$ 1.4 billion in additional funds in 22 low income countries.

“If allocated to health, government health spending in these countries can increase by up to 50 per cent,” he said.