Chart­ing a Blueprint for the To­bacco In­dus­try

Why are there so many gaps be­tween reg­u­la­tion and pol­icy ac­tion within Nige­ria’s To­bacco In­dus­try, Solomon Elu­soji and Ugo Ali­ogo won­der

THISDAY - - FEATURES -

It was a bright Wed­nes­day morn­ing at Protea Ho­tel Ikeja GRA. The day was carved out to dis­cuss the pol­icy reg­u­la­tion fac­ing the Food, Bev­er­age and To­bacco in­dus­try. Ex­perts in the in­dus­try saw the mo­ment as an op­por­tu­nity to ex­change ideas on the chal­lenges fac­ing the sec­tor, and prof­fer so­lu­tions on the way for­ward for the in­dus­try, con­sid­er­ing its neg­a­tive tra­jec­tory in 2016. The event was the break­fast di­a­logue ses­sion or­gan­ised by Ini­tia­tive for Pol­icy Anal­y­sis (IPPA) with the theme: ‘Mov­ing from Reg­u­la­tion to Pol­icy Ac­tion- the Chal­lenge’.

To be­gin the di­a­logue ses­sion was the Di­rec­tor, Re­search and Ad­vo­cacy, La­gos Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (LCCI), Dr. Vin­cent Nwani. He is a man with an ap­petite for knowl­edge. With over 14 years in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence, his ca­reer has en­dowed him with ro­bust ex­pe­ri­ence and an ex­cel­lent track record in bank­ing and fi­nance.

He be­gan his pre­sen­ta­tion with­out elab­o­rate pre­am­bles, fo­cus­ing on the reg­u­la­tions guid­ing the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion of the Nige­ria econ­omy. He took a cur­sory look at the ele­ments af­fect­ing the Nige­ria busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment. He ex­plained that mul­ti­ple tax­a­tion and the pol­icy du­plic­ity of govern­ments were one of the ma­jor prob­lems fac­ing busi­nesses in the coun­try.

Nwani’s ar­gu­ment is that the afore­men­tioned chal­lenges have in­creased the cost of do­ing busi­ness, cre­ated reg­u­la­tory un­cer­tainty, and re­duced Nige­ria’s at­trac­tive­ness as an in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion.

This is true, es­pe­cially in Nige­ria’s To­bacco in­dus­try. In his remarks, the Chair­man, House Com­mit­tee on In­for­ma­tion, Hon. Ode­bunmi Dokun, ex­pressed dis­plea­sure over the non-pas­sage of the Na­tional To­bacco Con­trol Act (NTCA).

He said de­spite the en­act­ment of the Act in May 2015, there are still con­cerns ex­pressed in some quar­ters, while as­sur­ing par­tic­i­pants at the event that there are con­certed ef­forts in ad­dress­ing these con­cerns with­out com­pro­mis­ing pub­lic in­ter­est.

He fur­ther ex­plained that the non-pas­sage of the Act has wors­ened the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment for the pri­vate sec­tor play­ers.

“It is not just ac­ci­den­tal there­fore that the Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics (NBS) re­ported that the food, bev­er­age and to­bacco in­dus­try con­tracted by the end of 2016 at -2.7 per cent from 5.8 per cent in the third quar­ter,” he said.

Dokun who was rep­re­sented by his Special As­sis­tant, Al-Mar­ruf Aji­bolu, added that the lack of ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­vi­sions con­tained in the Act, has made it in­ap­pro­pri­ate in re­form­ing the Act.

He fur­ther stated: “Glob­ally, reg­u­la­tions are im­por­tant as a way to fore­stall pos­si­ble ex­ter­nal­i­ties. The recog­ni­tion of the im­por­tant role that reg­u­la­tions could play in bring­ing about a sus­tain­able so­ci­ety is a key rea­son why leg­isla­tive pro­cesses usu­ally in­volves many stake­hold­ers in order to en­sure that the out­comes con­sider all shades of opin­ion.

“With­out this, the law may not be bal­anced, which will likely lead to lots of un­in­tended con­se­quences. The Nige­ria’s Na­tional As­sem­bly has demon­strated this be­lief by en­sur­ing that view­points of all ac­tors are considered in the

Stake­hold­ers in to­bacco in­dus­try are com­mit­ted to ad­her­ing to the pro­vi­sions of Na­tional Con­trol on To­bacco Act 2015 be­cause the Act for­bids pro­mo­tion of to­bacco prod­ucts in Nige­ria. As such in­dus­try lead­ers pre­vent youth ac­cess and smok­ing at point of sale and dis­cour­age the sale of to­bacco prod­ucts near schools

course of law-mak­ing. This is usu­ally in form of pub­lic hear­ing and con­sul­ta­tive/con­stituency meet­ings. “There­fore, I strongly be­lieve that laws should al­ways be im­ple­mented be­fore the con­sid­er­a­tion of any amend­ment. They have to be tested, eval­u­ated, gaps iden­ti­fied and ad­dressed be­fore new laws or amend­ments are in­tro­duced. The act can only be im­ple­mented by the ex­ec­u­tive branch and not by the stake­hold­ers in the sec­tor. “I want to en­join every­one to join hands with the gov­ern­ment in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the law and point out what­ever gaps that may ex­ist. As you all know, per­fec­tion is a process and ev­ery one of us are part of that process. I want this gath­er­ing to know that what­ever Act that is passed by the Na­tional As­sem­bly, it is meant for the gen­eral well-be­ing of the cit­i­zenry. We are your rep­re­sen­ta­tives and we are do­ing peo­ple’s busi­ness.”

In his remarks, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of IPPA, Mr. Thomp­son Ay­o­dele, said as a group their fo­cus is not only on to­bacco, but on the food and bev­er­ages in­dus­try, adding that the sec­tor is very im­por­tant to the growth of the econ­omy.

He added that the growth of the sec­tor was slow; as a re­sult it could not con­trib­ute to the Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP) which means that if it con­tin­ues it would af­fect the over­all growth of the econ­omy, es­pe­cially with the coun­try’s exit from re­ces­sion.

Ay­o­dele added: “stake­hold­ers in to­bacco in­dus­try are com­mit­ted to ad­her­ing to the pro­vi­sions of Na­tional Con­trol on To­bacco Act 2015 be­cause the Act for­bids pro­mo­tion of to­bacco prod­ucts in Nige­ria. As such in­dus­try lead­ers pre­vent youth ac­cess and smok­ing at point of sale and dis­cour­age the sale of to­bacco prod­ucts near schools.

“Also it strongly dis­cour­aged the use of child labour at to­bacco re­tail points to pre­vent mi­nors from sell­ing and pro­mot­ing the use of to­bacco prod­ucts and do not part­ner with any­one who en­gages un­der aged per­sons to sell their prod­ucts.

"The premise of the re­port is bi­ased and flawed as the re­port was em­barked on to ba­si­cally val­i­date the po­si­tion of those who com­mis­sioned the re­port. This is be­cause avail­able facts do not sup­port the key ar­gu­ments in the re­port. Facts show that to­bacco is a de­clin­ing prod­uct glob­ally and smok­ing preva­lence rate in Nige­ria is the low­est.

“This is why the ar­gu­ment of child smok­ing and sell­ing to school chil­dren is flawed. Again and again the law clearly for­bids sell­ing to mi­nor and le­gal pro­duc­ers will al­ways obey the law in both pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of their prod­ucts. Should any in­fringe­ment be no­ticed, they should be able to re­port to the reg­u­la­tors, but none so far in the pub­lic do­main.”

Reg­u­la­tions are crit­i­cal to shap­ing en­vi­ron­ments and so­ci­eties. The ob­jec­tive of any reg­u­la­tory pol­icy is to en­sure that it works ef­fec­tively and is in the pub­lic in­ter­est. For highly reg­u­lated prod­ucts, such as to­bacco in­dus­try, a fair bal­ance has to be made for all ar­eas in­volved in pub­lic in­ter­est. This con­sists of those who con­sume the prod­ucts and those that don’t. Sovereignty also plays a crit­i­cal role as reg­u­la­tions takes dif­fer­ent shapes de­pen­dent on var­i­ous fac­tors such as ca­pac­ity, econ­omy, in­fra­struc­ture, and fund­ing. The role of reg­u­la­tions for prod­ucts and ser­vices is al­ways crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of any econ­omy. That means for­eign laws should not be copied into Nige­ria with­out con­sid­er­ing the lo­cal pe­cu­liar­i­ties.

Also speak­ing at the event, a UK-based Health Econ­o­mist, Dr. Damilola Ola­jide, said avail­able data on to­bacco use in Nige­ria do not sup­port an overly reg­u­lated to­bacco in­dus­try, adding that the cur­rent level of reg­u­la­tions seems more of do­ing the dic­tates of World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) than what is re­quired lo­cally.

He also stated that ef­fec­tive­ness in the reg­u­la­tion of to­bacco use is largely de­pen­dent on ad­dress­ing com­ple­men­tary health be­hav­iours (al­co­hol), not­ing that there is a so­cioe­co­nomic di­men­sion to to­bacco use which re­quires tar­geted reg­u­la­tory regimes.

Ola­jide ar­gued that when the pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­bu­tion, or con­sump­tion of a prod­uct or ser­vice im­poses some ex­ter­nal­i­ties for health haz­ards on the pub­lic, the mar­ket price for the prod­uct or ser­vice would not cap­ture the as­so­ci­ated haz­ards im­posed on the so­ci­ety.

“Reg­u­la­tion is es­sen­tially im­por­tant to en­sure that the pub­lic in­ter­est is pro­tected. It of­ten takes the form of in­ter­ven­tions by gov­ern­ment agen­cies in the pri­vate mar­ket to im­ple­ment pol­icy and ef­fi­cient out­comes,” he noted.

A UK-based Health Econ­o­mist, Dr. Damilola Ola­jide, said avail­able data on to­bacco use in Nige­ria do not sup­port an overly reg­u­lated to­bacco in­dus­try, adding that the cur­rent level of reg­u­la­tions seems more of do­ing the dic­tates of World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) than what is re­quired lo­cally

L-R: Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Film and Video Cen­sors Board, Ade­dayo Thomas, Health Econ­o­mist, Univer­sity of Aberdeen, Dr. Ola­jide Damilola, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Ini­tia­tive for Pub­lic Pol­icy Anal­y­sis, Thomp­son Ay­o­dele, Prin­ci­pal Coun­sel, Jiti & Co, Mr. Jiti Ogunye and rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Chair­man, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Com­mit­tee on In­for­ma­tion, Hon. Ode­bunmi Dokun, Yinka Aji­bolu, at the break­fast di­a­logue ses­sion or­gan­ised by IPPA in La­gos...re­cently

L-R: Dr. Vin­cent Nwani of La­gos Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try mak­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion, Di­rec­tor of Ini­tia­tive for Pub­lic Pol­icy Anal­y­sis, Thomp­son Ay­o­dele and Dr. Damilola Ola­jide, Health Econ­o­mist, Univer­sity of Aberdeen, UK, watch­ing with keen in­ter­est

R-L: For­mer men­tor EU INSIDE, Mr. Dele Sonubi and Mr. Thomp­son Ay­o­dele, at the event

Par­tic­i­pants at the event

To­bacco reg­u­la­tion in Nige­ria is in dire straits

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