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Implementation of 20% tax on SSBs – NASR

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By Mercy Kelani

NCDs caused by excessive intake of SSBs, lead to over 41 million deaths yearly.

At a news conference in Abuja to mark the global week of action against non-communicable diseases, on September 10, 2022, a coalition of non-governmental organizations against sweetened products. Known as National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) had requested that the federal government implement the 20 percent Tax burden on sweetened beverages as recommended by the World Health organization (WHO) in 2017. The implementation of the tax was tasked on the note that it would discourage consumption.

The conference, themed “Invest in NCDs today, save lives and money tomorrow,” was addressed by speakers, the Health Communication Specialist for NASR, Omei Bonos-Ikwne; Vice President of the Nigerian Cancer Society, Mr. Elijah Elijah and the Program Coordinator for Project Pink Blue, Mrs. Gloria Okwu, and many more. NASR, a collaboration of non-governmental organizations, advocates for policy measures to address the health risks associated with the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and products, popularly known as ‘soft drinks.’

Nigeria has the fourth highest consumption rate of SSBs.

Nigeria, after the United States, China and Mexico, has been recorded as the country with the fourth highest soft drink consumption across the globe, with sales estimation of over 38 million litres every year. Excessive in-take of sugar-sweetened beverages is however linked with obesity and diverse non-communicable diseases such as the type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dental caries, liver disease and different types of cancers. Due to these health risks, the WHO cautioned that countries should impose a 20 percent tax on companies that produce sugar-sweetened beverages, so as to fight non-communicable diseases.

Okwu added that non-communicable diseases are now a global emergency which requires the raising of more funds and awareness, as it has led to many early deaths in low-income counties. In her words, investments are required to fight against NCDs, which is why The Global Week of Action signifies a clamor to the government, media, civil societies, international agencies and other stakeholders. This is to contribute to the provision of Sustainable Solutions for the mobilization of effective investments in health.

SSBs tax imposition will promote public health.

Bonos-Ikwne, during the conference, appealed to the federal government to urgently implement the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to discourage excessive consumption, given that the WHO recommends it as a very effective method to immensely reduce the rates of obesity and many kinds of non-communicable diseases. Placing emphasis on the tax implementation he stated that it would be difficult for national development to occur without the inclusion of Public Health concerns into a short or medium term national strategic plan.

Asides discouragement of consumption through the discouragement of purchase, the imposition of the tax will enable the promotion of public health and generation of new Revenue cover the massive cost of managing non-communicable diseases and raising public awareness. The tax is also likely to raise doubts on how much sugar a sweetened beverage contains and resultantly lead to the reformulation of the products such that the companies responsible for their production will reduce the sugar content.

Tax revenue should be allocated to the health sector for control of NCDs.

Non-communicable diseases are said to be responsible for the deaths of over 41 million people every year, an equivalence of seven out of 10 deaths worldwide. In a bid to reduce these death rates, the NASR urges the federal government to build a sustainable SSBs tax for allocation to the Nigerian health sector and with the specific purpose of preventing, controlling, and treating non-communicable diseases. Elijah also suggested that a non-communicable disease fund is created from revenue gotten from the SSB tax for NCDs prevention and control.


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