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Why govt must increase tax on sugar sweetened beverages, by experts

Some of the officials and participants of the workshop organised by CAPPA in Ikeja, Lagos.

 

Di-abates, other non-communicable diseases to claim more Nigerians if govt fails to hike tax on SSB

 

By Valentine Amanze

 

Nigeria is on the verge of joining the league of nations with the highest mortality rate if the federal government fails to increase the tax on Suger Sweetened Beverages (SSB) beyond the current N10 per litre excise duty imposed on them via the Finance Act 2021.

 

The failure to hike the tax on SSB would trigger harvest of deaths from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like obesity, cardiovascular diseases, weight gain, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and kidney diseases.

 

Participants and health experts raised the alarm at a two-day Journalism Training on SSB Tax and Industry Monitoring organized by the Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) in collaboration with the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) in Ikeja Lagos on March 20 and 21, 2023.

 

They argued that though the advocacy [new tax] could face challenges, if implemented, it would help maintain the nation’s health faciliies and prevent avoidable deaths.

 

They also explained that SSB exist in carbonated soft drinks, energy drinks,

concentrates or syrups, sports drinks, pre-sweetened teas and coffees, enhanced waters, milk-based

drinks, less than 100 percent fruit or vegetable juices such as juice drinks or nectar.

 

Also read: CAPPA raises alarm over political tension, violence

 

Besides,  they advised Nigerians to drink more of water and avoid SSB.

 

In his contribution during the brainstorming session, the CAPPA Executive Director,

Akinbode Oluwafemi, appealed to the government to urgently increase the tax on SSB to boost the nation’s revenue and improve the health of citizens.

 

Dr. Francis Fagbule, public health professional, who spoke on, “The burden of SSB consumption on public health in Nigeria,” pointed out that a healthy body requires only five cubes of sugar daily, while wondering why a bottle of soft drink could contain as many as 13 cubes of sugar.

 

He further disclosed that manufacturers now woo consumers of SSB with low prices and availability of products.

 

Some of the journalists at the SSB workshop on Monday March 20, 2023.

 

He also urged manufacturers of SSB to start thinking about alternatives that would not be injurious to health.

 

“Availability of the product, affordability, urbanisation, cultural and social norms, the marketing and advertising strategy of SSB, as well as the lack of public education and awareness about the health risk are some of the reasons most Nigerians still indulge in the consumption,” he said.

 

But, Adeolu Adebiyi, the senior regional adviser, Food Policy Programme, GHAI, spoke on “Healthy food policies in Nigeria: Legal landscape analysis for SSB.”

 

He disclosed that solution to the menace of SSB on citizens include: Litigation, creating a comprehensive stand alone legislation like the Tobacco Act, exercise of administrative power, leveraging on existing NAFDAC regulations with express provisions on modalities, and legislative pathway among others.

 

Notable media personalities, Dayo Aiyetan of International Centre for Investigative Reporting, and Simon Kolawole of the Cable tv, attended the event meant to equip journalists with relevant skills on how best to report SSB-related stories.

 

SSBs

are readily available and highly consumed particularly among children and adolescents in Nigeria.

 

Recall that globally taxation had been identified as an effective policy measure to reduce sugar

consumption, control incidence of diet-related NCDs, and reduce its associated health and economic

burden.

 

Countries with highest mortality rate include Lithuania, Serbia, Romania, and Latvia.

 

valoa2000@yahoo.com

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