By Daniel Kanu
Public health experts, industry professionals, and Civil Society Organisations among other stakeholders have urged the federal government to increase tax on sugar sweetened beverages so as to discourage and reduce its intake by the gullible
By extension they submitted that it would reduce the health burden associated with the consumption of SSB.
This is as they expressed worry over bad narratives that are making the rounds and causing most Nigerians to turn against a policy they should be supporting.
Speakers, after speakers who spoke at the opening of a 2-day journalism training programme in Lagos on Monday 20th, and Tuesday 21st, 2023, raised serious concern on the dangerous health implication on consumers of SSB products.
The training organised by CAPPA is for the journalists to interface with experts so as to have a better understanding of key issues concerning SSB and to develop skills for its reportage.
Some of the health dangers for consuming SSB was highlighted which includes but not limited to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, weight gain, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, kidney diseases.
Speaking at the event, with the theme:
‘Training on SSB Tax and Industry Monitoring” Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director, CAPPA urged the FG as a matter of urgent health concern to increase tax on SSB without further delay to discourage unsuspecting Nigerians from making unhealthy choices that are gradually leading to the untimely death of many.
Dr. Francis Fagbule, public health professional, who spoke on “The burden of SSB consumption on public health in Nigeria” listed reasons for the increasing consumption of SSB in Nigeria.
According to him“ 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”
Fagbule, harped on the need for solution health promotion, building healthy public policy, creating supportive environment, strengthening community actions as well as developing personal skills.
Also, Adeolu Adebiyi, Senior Regional Adviser, Food Policy Programme, GHAI, who spoke on the topic “Healthy food policies in Nigeria: Legal landscape analysis for SSB” disclosed pathways to strengthen SSB which according to him includes: 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 owners, Dayo Aiyetan, Director, International Centre for Investigative Reporting and Simon Kolawole, Publisher The Cable, were also present as resource persons to equip the Journalists with relevant skills on how best to report SSB-related stories
Recall, although implementation was delayed till June 2022, the federal government through the Finance Act 2021, imposed a N10/litre excise duty on sugar sweetened beverages in order to primarily discourage the over consumption of sugary drinks.
The verdict by participants at the training was that Nigerian government should increase tax on SSB as the present N10 imposed tax has not achieved the desired objective of discouraging and reducing its consumption.