By G9ija

The Center for the Study of the Economies of Africa (CSEA) yesterday said Nigeria spent N526.4 billion to treat tobacco-related ailments in 2019.

This, according to the group, was parts of the outcome of its findings.

CSEA Director of Education and Governance research/Senior Research Fellow Dr Adedeji Adeniran made this known at a workshop held in Alausa, Lagos.

According to him, no fewer than 29,472 deaths were attributable to smoking.

Adeniran said the figure represented around 4.9 per cent of all deaths recorded same year.

He reiterated the call for a higher tax on cigarettes to mitigate the health burden.

This would reduce the smoking prevalence and intensity of smoking in the country.

He said: “This burden corresponds to 231,457 Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) per year. If the price of tobacco cigarettes were to be raised by 50 per cent, 23,838 deaths and 602,325 DALYs from smoking-attributable diseases would be averted in 10 years, with subsequent savings on health care costs, and increased tax revenue collection. In Nigeria, the tobacco tax collection does not currently fully cover the direct healthcare costs attributed to smoking.”

Globally, he said, tobacco consumption continues to cause a huge burden of preventable diseases.

He added that Nigeria is becoming a major tobacco market in Africa and the absolute number of active smokers remains among the highest on the continent.

“Tobacco smoking resulted into: psychological effect and change in physical health; stigmatization; reduced productivity; and fall in standard of living. Overall, the result underscores the need for broader tobacco control policies in Nigeria through more tobacco taxes and other supplementary measures,” he said.

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) Director of Programmes Philip Jakpor, said the government needs to partner with research groups, civil societies and advocacy groups on tobacco control.

“We anticipate that getting the data to the government will help their planning and review some specific policies especially in relation to tobacco control.

One of the things we heard for instance here is that the current tax imposed on tobacco products is significantly lower compared to what we have in other African countries,” he said.

Nigeria, he said, needs to look into the policies relating to tobacco control and come up with realistic policies and information that will be useful to the public and for global tobacco control.

An Associate Professor of Medicine at the Lagos State University College of Medicine (LASUCOM) Dr Olufunke Adeyeye, said smoking puts lives of those engaging in it on a dangerous pedestal.

Dr Adeyeye, who is also a Consultant Pulmonologist at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said those that do not die young, are having a lot of morbidity.

“They are having huge expenditures on health care and they’re having poor quality of life. So, it’s important to know that when you smoke, you interfere with your quality of life. You have cough that doesn’t go; you’re breathless you can’t do exercise. You can have sudden death; you can develop stroke or wounds that refuse to heal. You can have babies that are too small, children that goes to hospital all the time from recurrent infections. So, there’s really no benefit in smoking,” she said.