The Association of Nigeria Private Medical Practitioners (ANPMP) has urged the Federal Government to educate Nigerians on lifestyle changes and healthy eating habits before implementing the N10 excise duty on carbonated drinks.
The ANPMP’s National President, Dr Iyke Odo, made the appeal in an interview on Thursday in Lagos.
The Federal Government on Jan. 5 introduced an excise duty of N10 per litre on all non-alcoholic, carbonated and sweetened beverages.
Excise duty is tax imposed on the manufacture, sale or consumption of some selected products such as alcoholic drinks, tobacco products and petroleum.
According to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, the new policy is in the Finance Act signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on Dec. 31, 2021.
She said the excise duty was meant to discourage excessive consumption of sugar beverages which contributed to diabetes, obesity as well as other health challenges.
Ahmed said the federal government’s decision would also raise revenues for health-related and other critical expenditures in line with the 2022 budget priorities.
But Odo said it would be reasonable for government to increase awareness and knowledge about the risk associated with excessive consumption of carbonated and sweetened beverages.
He noted that it would also be understandable if the government had enlightened the public using no less than three major languages on different media platforms for a year before implementing the policy.
“Medically, if you are hungry and dehydrated, and yet to have a meal by noon and you take a carbonated drink, it is healthy because it revives you.
“But if I finish a bowl of pounded yam and wash it down with a bottle of carbonated drink, that is the abuse.
“Government should, rather than pursue a wrong agenda, educate Nigerians on lifestyle changes and healthy eating. This will make them know when to take it and when not to,” he said.
According to him, the policy is a misplaced priority and another way of inflicting hardship on Nigerians.
Odo also appealed to government to intensify efforts on policies that would improve the welfare; healthcare systems; sanitation; security; and business environment, among others in Nigeria.