By Tunde Osho
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC), on Tuesday put its weight behind the Federal Government’s decision to raise the excise duty rates on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.
The agency’s Director-General, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, said the increase would serve as a measure to reduce the risks of abuse and disease. Irukera said that though CPC protected the rights of all consumers and their prerogative to make personal lifestyle choices, it, however, encourages responsible consumption in all circumstances.
He said that the policy was the product of consensus pursuant to broad stakeholders’ engagement and was motivated in large part by the Federal Government’s desire to reduce the risks of abuse and disease that may be associated with consumption of these products. According to him, the Federal Government’s approach will also foster consumer confidence, provide regulatory clarity and prioritise safety, all of which reinforce the mandate of the council.
“The council insists that all producers, particularly of the products subject of this revised excise duty must take appropriate steps, including full disclosures to promote responsible consumption, responsive, transparent and accessible consumer complaint resolution mechanisms to protect and satisfy consumers,” Irukera said.
Similarly, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), a non-profit organisation, commended the government for approving increase in excise duty on tobacco products in line with the new amendments.
Although ERA/FoEN described the decision to increase excise duty on tobacco as praiseworthy, it urged the government to match the rates in Nigeria with that of other countries across Africa if the aims are to be achieved in record time.
In a statement by Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, it said: “We applaud the Federal Government for acceding to the popular wishes of Nigerians for tobacco products to be priced beyond the reach of our kids and the poor who are unfortunately targeted by the tobacco industry through their cheap but lethal products.”
Oluwafemi noted that while the rates were a good start, they still fell short of the more aggressive but very effective recommendations of WHO in Article 6 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which is 70 per cent excise on tobacco products.