Nigeria joined the rest of the world yesterday to mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day with a charged from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the federal government and other African countries should impose environmental levies on tobacco across the value and supply chains.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made the call in a statement in commemoration of the 2022 World No Tobacco Day, themed: “Tobacco: Threat to our environment”.
She said the levies should spread across production, processing, distribution, sales, consumption and waste management.
Moeti said this year’s theme aims to highlight the environmental impact of the entire tobacco cycle, from cultivation, production and distribution, to the toxic waste it generates.
“For tobacco-growing countries, I fully commit WHO’s support to assist farmers to switch to alternative crops,” she pledged.
Moeti also encouraged countries to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which provides the necessary guidance to advance the creation of smoke-free environments, to create programmes to support tobacco users to quit, and support for the application of excise tax and other financial countermeasures.
“Reducing tobacco consumption is a key catalyst towards realising the health-related Sustainable Development Goals but, as the environmental evidence illustrates, the benefits go far beyond health,” she stressed.
The World No Tobacco Day is commemorated on 31st May every year with the aim to raise awareness of the negative health, social, economic and environmental impacts of tobacco production and use.
Highlighting the environmental impacts of tobacco farming, Moeti said “It include massive use of water, which is a scarce resource across most of the continent, along with large-scale deforestation and contamination of our air and water systems.
“Land used to grow tobacco could also be used much more efficiently, especially in countries grappling with food insecurity.”