Framing tobacco control: the case of the Nigerian tobacco tax debates.

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Akin-Onitolo, Ayotemide  ORCID logo
Hawkins, Ben 

Studies have shown that the tobacco industry exerts significant policy-framing efforts to undermine tobacco control (TC) policies. However, most of this evidence is from high-income settings. This study applies framing analysis to the debate surrounding the 2016 tobacco import duty raise in Nigeria and subsequent rise in excise duty on tobacco, alcohol and selected food products in 2018 to understand why policy changes occurred. Print media documents and relevant actor publications published between 2016 and 2018 were analysed interpretively to identify key actors and arguments for and against the tax raise. Key opponents included tobacco companies, trade groups and allies. In contrast, the Ministries of Health and Finance, non-governmental organizations and international bodies like the World Health Organization advocated for the policy. The framing efforts of opponents were largely coordinated with significant alcohol industry involvement, while TC advocates lacked a unified front. Actors on both sides of the debate predominantly focused on economic and 'global ranking' arguments, and advocates also employed health and 'vulnerable groups' framing among others. The tax policy was sustained despite the framing and litigation efforts of opponents, and this is attributed principally to economic factors. The findings also suggest that tobacco is grouped with less harmful products, and advocates need to intensify efforts to diminish this legitimacy in low- and middle-income country settings. Additionally, there may be some benefits to jointly addressing alcohol and TC in this setting. Summarily, it is recommended that public health advocates coordinate their framing efforts to better articulate clear policy positions to the government, gain public support and ensure full Framework Convention on Tobacco Control compliance.

LMIC, Non-communicable diseases, framing theory, policy analysis, tobacco control, tobacco tax, Humans, Nigeria, Public Policy, Nicotiana, Tobacco Industry, Tobacco Products
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Health Policy Plan
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Oxford University Press (OUP)
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