By Ebi Kesiena
Sugary Drinks Advocates in Nigeria have applauded President Muhammadu Buhari and the finance minister for signing the sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) tax into law as part of the 2021 Finance Act to be implemented in 2022.
This, the group noted was worthy of celebration coming into the new year.
In a press statement made available to Journalists over the weekend, Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI) collaborating with Gatefield Impact and National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) insisted that the tax will encourage decreased consumption, raise government revenue and will be a critical tool to help fight the non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemic in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.
Advocacy & External Engagement Specialist at Gatefield Impact, the partners of GHAI in Nigeria Shirley Ewang stated that the newly implemented tax, an excise duty of N10 per liter ($0.02 USD/liter) imposed on all non-alcoholic and sweetened beverages, comes at a key moment in Nigeria, which is estimated to have over 12 million people suffering from obesity and leads the continent in diabetes prevalence.
The advocates explained that the implementation of healthy food policies, including SSB taxes, help curb the globally growing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related non-communicable diseases.
“We applaud President Buhari, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health for recognizing the importance of healthy food policies and the significant impact this SSB tax will have in Nigeria.
“The newly implemented tax will encourage decreased consumption, raise government revenue and will be a critical tool to help fight the non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemic in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.
“The implementation of healthy food policies, including SSB taxes, help curb the globally growing rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related non-communicable diseases. A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health in 2020 showed that South Africa’s SSB tax (referred to as the Health Promotion Levy) was effective in reducing consumption and purchases of taxed beverages within a year of going into effect. According to a study published by the University of Washington, Seattle saw a 20% decrease in consumption after it implemented an SSB tax in January 2018, and the decrease in low-income communities was even more significant.
“We are thrilled about this development. The SSB tax is a win for public health and the Nigerian people. Gatefield has benefited from the collaborative endeavours of diverse stakeholders, including members of our NASR coalition, other public health groups, and the academic research community, in achieving this historic milestone,” she said.
About The Advocates
The Gatefield Impact and the NASR tirelessly advocated for the implementation of the SSB tax in Nigeria. They worked closely with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health and regularly engaged with the National Assembly to put the issue on the agenda.
The coalition has a wide array of civil society partners including the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, the Nigeria Cancer Society, and GHAI’s Prevent Epidemics partner, Nigeria Health Watch Foundation all of whom collaborated to increase public and policymaker awareness and push for the tax.
The Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI) Healthy Food Policy Advocacy Fund has been working with civil society organizations Gatefield Impact and National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) over the last year to increase public awareness and call for government action on the dangers of SSBs.