By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has called on the federal government to close the tobacco control funding gap.

NTCA Chairman, Akinbode Oluwafemi, made the call on Tuesday at a media briefing on the 2024 tobacco control budget in Abuja.

“As an Alliance, we commend the 10 million Naira allocation for local tobacco control efforts
in the 2024 national budget as a slight improvement compared to the 4.7 million Naira
allocated in the 2023 national budget. However, it must be emphasized that this amount still
falls below expectations, especially because we know that while it looks like the figure has
gone up, there is almost no difference from last year’s allocation when Nigeria’s hyper-
inflation is considered.
“Time and again, we have stated that limited funding hinders the comprehensive implementation of measures outlined in the National Tobacco Control Act, which are
designed to tightly regulate tobacco products and tobacco use in the country, and ultimately
reduce the burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases in Nigeria.
“With Nigeria’s frail health system, and the lean pocket suffered by many Nigerians, the
Federal Government ought to prioritize financing the enforcement of tobacco control
measures to ensure that diseases associated with tobacco products are prevented.”
He said another critical concern is whether the monies previously budgeted were released into the
Fund account. “It is imperative to remind the Federal Government that the National Tobacco
Control Act stipulates that funds allocated for tobacco control in the national budget or from
other sources are to be remitted to the Tobacco Control Fund account for utilization. We
strongly desire to see that this is complied with, and for this reason we call on the Federal
Ministry of Health to provide an update on the status of the Tobacco Control Fund,
specifically detailing the current balance, sources of the monies in the Fund and details of
previous spendings from the Fund.

“Furthermore, we raise the concern of whether all tobacco companies have been fulfilling
their obligation of paying for operating licenses after gaining approval to operate in Nigeria.

“It is imperative that tobacco companies comply with this requirement, as it serves as a
crucial regulatory measure to monitor their operations and ensure their adherence to
established guidelines. Allowing tobacco companies to operate without licenses not only
poses a health hazard due to the harmful nature of their products but also bleeds the
country of revenue and undermines the regulatory framework and efforts to control tobacco use in the country. Where infractions are discovered, appropriate penalties should be

“Finally, it is time for the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider earmarking tobacco tax
as a dedicated source for financing tobacco control enforcement efforts in the country. By earmarking tobacco tax for tobacco control measures, the government can establish a
funding mechanism that directly aligns with the objectives of ending tobacco consumption,
preventing tobacco-related diseases, and promoting public health. Moreover, earmarking
tobacco tax for tobacco control initiatives ensures that the burden of funding these critical
programs does not fall solely on the government’s general budget.”

Also speaking, the Pogramme Officer NTCA, Chibuike Nwokorie, said the fund is an improvement from last year but with the inflation, it is no longer an improvement.

“Government needs to make effort to fund tobacco so that they can step in when the donors pull out. We need to be very serious in addressing these challenges.

“We are calling for effective operational fund to tackle these challenges. We commend them for what they are doing and want them to do more in that area”.

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