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World No Tobacco Day: Groups urge Buhari to enforce tobacco laws

Some tobacco control groups in the country have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to intensify efforts to enforce the National Tobacco Control Regulations recently passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

The groups, comprising Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), gave the advice at a news conference in Abuja, on Thursday.

The Programme Coordinator of NTCA, Mr. Oluwaseun Esan, said that the press briefing was organised to kick-start the commemoration of the 2019 World No Tobacco Day, which holds on May 31 annually.

The global day which has its theme: “Tobacco and Lung Health’’ is to create awareness on the health risks associated with tobacco use and effective policies to reduce its consumption.

Esan recalled that the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Hon. Yakubu Dogara, approved the draft regulations on May 7, 2019, adding that the approved regulation was harmonised and concurred by the Nigerian Senate on May 28, 2019.

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He commended the 8th National Assembly for leaving a legacy to safeguard public health.

According to him, some regulations approved by the National Assembly stipulate that health warnings on tobacco packs will now constitute 50 per cent of the principal surfaces.

He said that this would increase to 60 per cent in four years.

“There shall be prescribed price list of tobacco products at points of sale. This will not contain images, symbols, colours, signs or other contents including trade mark or branding images.

“The regulations also state that N10 million each, as prescribed fees, must be paid to the Federal Ministry of Health before issuance of license to manufacturer, importer or distributor of tobacco products.

“There shall be designated areas for smoking and tobacco control fund shall be earmarked to address harmful effects caused by the tobacco,’’ Esan said.

He called on the government to ensure the fast implementation of the just approved Tobacco Control Regulations.

“We also appeal to all Nigerians to take their health seriously by avoiding tobacco use and ensuring that no one smokes near them.

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Tobacco is known to cause all sorts of cancers, lung diseases and heart disease,’’ he said.

The Head of Media and Campaigns, ERA/FoEN, Mr Philip Jakpor, said the World Health Organisation (WHO), revealed that nearly eight million people die annually from tobacco consumption.

Jakpor quoted WHO as saying that out of the figure, 600,000 are victims of exposure to second-hand smoke.

“What this means in essence is that the lungs of our beloved ones who are addicted to smoking and those of us who are innocent and passive smokers are at risk.

“It is for this reason that governments around the world are today making commitments to promote lung health by protecting their people from the effects of tobacco use.

“They are also strengthening implementation of the proven tobacco control measures contained in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC),’’ he said. (NAN)