SSBS: Expert Calls For Implementation Of Robust Health Tax Policies

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
Sugar sweetened beverages. SSB
Sugar sweetened beverages.

The director of DGI Consult Limited and a health economist, Dr. Gafar Alawode has urged the Nigerian government to implement and enforce strong health tax policies.

In an interview with Science Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja, Alawode highlighted the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria, which accounts for 29 per cent of all mortality and 22 per cent of premature deaths in the country.

He noted that the key contributors to this burden include tobacco, alcohol and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs).

“With annual sales growth of SSBs in Nigeria at 15.78 percent, the country is a prime market for major beverage companies. Additionally, Nigeria’s per capita alcohol consumption is 9.6 litres, higher than the African average of 6.3 litres, while tobacco use among adults is also notable,” he said.

Alawode explained that health taxes on products like tobacco, alcohol and SSBs are employed globally to curb consumption of these harmful products and generate revenue.

He stressed that robust health tax policies are essential for combating the rising burden of NCDs in Nigeria, necessitating the addressing of political, socio-economic and institutional challenges while leveraging enablers such as international support and local advocacy.

Despite adopting various global policies and enacting legislation to reduce NCDs, significant gaps remain in the implementation of health taxes. Alawode pointed out the political challenges in raising health taxes to the recommended levels, despite well-documented health and economic benefits.

“To inform effective interventions and advocacy, it is essential to explore the political and socio-economic factors influencing health tax policies in Nigeria,” he said.

Highlighting a recent health policy analysis, he discussed the assessment of the status of health tax policies in Nigeria and their alignment with global standards.

“The analysis identifies key stakeholders and their roles in the design and implementation of health taxes, understanding how various actors and institutions influence these policies and identifying the primary enablers and barriers to effective health tax policies.

“The study employs a mixed-methods approach, including stakeholder engagement workshops, literature reviews, key informant interviews, policy dialogues and dissemination of findings. Stakeholders from government, civil society and industry were engaged to gather comprehensive insights. Evidence synthesis and validation sessions with policymakers ensured the relevance and applicability of the findings,” he said.

According to him, the study recommends increasing local capacity for developing health tax policies and reducing reliance on international guidelines, limiting industry influence in policy processes, enhancing transparency and accountability in health tax enforcement and monitoring and taxing emerging industry products to prevent substitution.

Additionally, he said it suggested amending existing laws to streamline implementation processes, strengthening collaboration among implementing agencies and advocating for the earmarking of health tax revenues for public health initiatives.

While Nigeria’s health tax policies on tobacco and alcohol are in place, they fall short of global standards. The National Tobacco Control Act and alcohol excise taxes are examples, but SSB taxes lack a standalone policy framework.

“Excise taxes on tobacco and alcohol have been implemented but are not earmarked for health, limiting their impact on public health funding,” he said.

Regarding stakeholder dynamics, he noted that various actors, including government ministries, international organisations and industry groups, play significant roles in shaping health tax policies.

“Industry lobbying has often diluted pro-health tax measures, while bureaucratic and political interests sometimes hinder effective policy implementation,” he said.

He identified international guidelines, professional groups advocating for NCD control and a supportive macroeconomic environment as key enablers.

However, he noted that strong industry lobbying, economic concerns over job and revenue losses, insufficient policy design capacity and lack of public awareness about health taxes are significant barriers.

Alawode called for a concerted effort to tackle the increasing burden of NCDs in Nigeria through effective health tax policies. He emphasised the need for comprehensive stakeholder engagement, capacity building and a supportive policy environment to ensure the successful implementation and enforcement of these taxes.

“The battle against NCDs is not just a health issue but a socio-economic imperative. Robust health tax policies can significantly reduce the prevalence of NCDs, improve public health and generate substantial revenue for the government. It is time for Nigeria to take decisive action,” he stated.

Alawode’s call for robust health tax policies underscores the urgent need for strategic interventions to address the rising burden of NCDs in Nigeria. By leveraging the experience and success of other countries, Nigeria can develop and enforce effective health tax policies that will improve public health and contribute to the nation’s socio-economic growth.

Racheal Abujah
+ posts
- Advertisement -

Leave a Reply

get in touch


Latest News

Related Articles