The Federal Ministry of Finance has said that it has concluded plans to include shisha in the new tobacco tax regime meant to take effect from June 1, 2022.
This was made known by the ministry’s Director of Technical Services, Mrs. Fatima Hayatu, during an advocacy visit by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, a non-governmental organisation.
Explaining the proposed tax, Hayatu said that taxation on a cigarette stick was formerly N2.90 kobo but was increased to N4.20 kobo, adding, “Shisha will be taxed at N3, 000 per liter, N1, 000 per KG, and it will be increased by N500 yearly.”
What the Federal Ministry of Health is saying about the increase
“What inspired this increase is the ECOWAS directive that recommended 0.02 cents per stick of cigarette and at the current exchange rate of 0.02 cents, it would be N8.40 kobo. However, it was agreed that to meet the recommendation halfway, which would be N4.20 kobo starting from 2022.”
“Then in 2023, an additional 50 kobo would be added to make N4.70 kobo, and then in 2024, 50 kobo would be added to make it N5.20 kobo. These would all reflect the current increase of the Ad Valorem from 20% to 30%. This is a gradual increase in the tax, and all is currently in review.
“The increase in tax/levies will not only be for tobacco products, but also for other smoking products such as shisha and the classification of these products and the apparatus used to convey and consume these products.”
According to Mrs. Hayatu, the tobacco industry is a powerful one but the ministry is committed to checkmating illicit flow of the product into the market.
She noted that the ministry was setting up a tobacco tax working group to see to what all other ECOWAS countries are doing on tobacco tax regime.
What CISLAC is saying
The CISLAC team had during the visit called on the federal government to include shisha pots and other smoking devices into the new tobacco tax regime.
CISLAC’s Programme Manager on Democratic Governance, Mr. Okeke Anya, said that adding shisha pots and other electronic smoking devices into the new tobacco regime would crash its demand, as well as increase revenue for the nation.
“The increase in tax will also be an avenue to generate revenue for the country. This is how many countries operate because consumption of tobacco is a luxury and not a necessity,” he added.
According to Cambridge dictionary, Shisha is an Arabic name for a type of pipe for burning tobacco, in which smoke passes through a container of water before it is breathed in.
It is a form of tobacco smoking that has become fashionable in society, with many who do not smoke cigarettes embracing it. It is considered a better alternative to cigarettes. It is also called hookah, water pipe, or goza.
Public health experts have warned that shisha smoking increases the amount of carbon monoxide (CO) in a person’s body to eight times their normal level. Compared to smoking one cigarette, a single shisha session exposes users to more carbon monoxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons )PAHs), similar levels of nicotine, and lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines. By inhaling these chemicals, Shisha smokers are at increased risk of many of the same health problems as cigarette smokers.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, “smoke from shisha contains carbon monoxide and other toxic agents known to increase the risks for smoking-related cancers, heart disease and lung disease”.
Similarly, the World Health Organisation, WHO, in a 2015 report, warned that shisha smoking is worse than smoking cigarettes, adding that a shisha user inhales the equivalent of about 100 cigarettes during a single session.