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How Nigeria’s online stores flout country’s tobacco control law

Online retailers in Nigeria are defying the tobacco control law and continue to make brisk business selling tobacco and its products to the public through their websites.

Checks by PREMIUM TIMES showed that these online retailers not only market products like cigarettes and shisha, they do not have mechanisms to ensure prospective buyers are aged 18 and above, a flagrant violation of the National Tobacco Control Act.

The NTCA 2015 in Section 15(4) stipulates that ‘A person shall not sell or offer to sell or distribute tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet or other online devices”.

In Section 15(2), it states that ‘Prior to any tobacco or tobacco product sale or trade, the seller or trader shall verify the age of the purchaser by checking any form of official identification prescribed by law’.

The law defines tobacco products as ‘products entirely or partly made of the leaf tobacco as raw material which are manufactured to be used for smoking, sucking, chewing or snuffing’.

Tobacco For All

Nigeria’s tobacco control legislation came into existence in 2015, signed into law by former president Goodluck Jonathan after years of delays.

But its implementation has been stalled due to a controversial clause in the law which requires parliamentary approval of regulations – which cover about 70 per cent of implementation needs of the Act – before enforcement.

To mark the 2017 World No Tobacco Day, Isaac Adewole, the health minister, outlined nine key provisions of the NTCA, which do not need the regulations, for implementation.

The provisions included the prohibition of the sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below age 18 as well as a ban of sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet, or other online devices.

But Nigerian online retailers have ignored the legislation, blatantly advertising for sale on their websites, packs of cigarettes and other by-products of tobacco.

On Konga, for instance, some of the tobacco products on sale include United Arab Emirates-made Al Fakher Shisha Tobacco, described as among the oldest and most famous brands of shisha tobacco in the world. Part of the product description read: “Al Fakher is made from only the best parts of the tobacco leaf and the finest European flavours”.

Other products on the website include the Complete Maryjane Shisha Flavor Hookah Pot and liquid tobacco such as Ice Tobacco described as a mixture of American tobacco and fruits, caramel, and mint.

Full article is available at: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/283229-how-nigerias-online-stores-flout-countrys-tobacco-control-law.html

By Ben Ezeamalu

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Focus on Kenya: Wiping out illicit trade

Focus on Kenya: Wiping out illicit trade

Last year in April, reports in local dailies indicated African countries lose Sh1trillion annually to illicit tobacco trade, often driven by cigarette manufacturers in a bid to evade taxation. This denies governments much-needed revenue from taxation, while at the same time, increasing supply (access) and affordability, hence, defeating public health goals.

Studies show if global illicit trade is eliminated, governments would gain at least $31 billion (Sh3.1 trillion) and from 2010 onwards, would save at least 160,000 lives a year due to a projected cigarette price increase of 3.9 per cent and consequent fall in consumption of two per cent.

Illicit trade of tobacco undermines health objectives, imposes additional strain on health systems, causes losses of revenue to a country’s economy and can lead to criminal activities and insecurity. Illicit trade in tobacco products leads to decrease in tax compliance and effectiveness, and leads to undermining tax systems.

In Kenya, between 2000 and 2010, 37.4 million diverted cigarette exports were intercepted by KRA, with a value of Sh 174 million and estimated tax loss of Sh111 million. Illicit trade is often a cross-border act, especially where there are tax and price differentials between two countries.

‘Illicit trade’ is the production, import, export, distribution, purchase, sale or possession of a product that fails to comply with the law. There are several dimensions to this: First is contraband, where cigarettes are smuggled from abroad without payment of domestic duty (undeclared or under-declared imports). Under and undeclared products may also originate from the local market.

Second is counterfeit, where tobacco products are manufactured without authorisation, with intent to deceive consumers and avoid paying duty.

Third is a diverted export, in which domestic production declared as export never leaves the country

Kenya has taken strong measures to control this illicit trade and has become a global leader through the adoption of a strong Excisable Goods Management System. It uses technology to track and trace tobacco products, and provides a platform for verification of the authenticity of products by enforcement agencies and the public.

Cigarettes targeted for the Kenyan market must bear tax stamps and be marked ‘For sale in Kenya only’ or they will be seized. Vehicles transporting tobacco products for export are sealed at the factory and tracked electronically until they reach the border. Export products must also bear bar codes indicating the market they are destined for. Through these measures and strong market surveillance, Kenya has managed to reduce illicit trade in tobacco significantly.

The objective of the ITP is to eliminate all forms of this illicit trade in line with Article 15 of the WHO FCTC. Besides providing for an effective and standard track and trace system, the protocol provides for inter-country cooperation and a global mechanism for sharing of sensitive information for effective control of illicit products.

In accordance with the FCTC (Article 44 ), the ITP will enter into force and become binding on the 90th day following the 40th ratification by parties to the FCTC. As of February 1, Togo became the 34th country to ratify and so far, only six more countries are needed. Thereafter, parties will begin formal engagements and the first Meeting of Parties will be held shortly afterwards.

Despite the great work Kenya has done so far, we risk missing out on these important global deliberations if we do not ratify in time. Ratification of the treaty will form a basis for stronger policy and legislative framework for the control of this illicit trade in this country.

Further, it will give Kenya a voice in the global discussions as the world begins setting the foundation for the implementation of the ITP. It will complement the government’s efforts and enable Kenya to retain her place in the global tobacco control movement in general and specifically in control of illicit trade of tobacco.

The new Health and Foreign Affairs CSs Sicily Kariuki and Monica Juma ought to prioritise and fast-track the ratification process for the treaty.

  • Emma Wanyonyi is the CEO, International Institute for Legislative Affairs and Rodgers Kidiya is the programme officer, Research and Development.

* This article first appeared in The Star in Kenya. To view the original article, click here.

 

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