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Activists seek speedy enforcement of tobacco control act

Tobacco

Civil society groups under the auspices of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and National Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) have urged the Federal Government to urgently enforce the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act.

The groups expressed worries that there was yet no concrete action to show that the Federal Ministry of Health was determined to implement the Act, which was signed into law in 2015.

They lamented that three years after the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, announced the commencement of the enforcement of nine key provisions of the Act, the Tobacco industry was having a field day addicting Nigerian kids into smoking.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday at a press conference tagged: Enforcing Tobacco Control Act is Everyone’s Duty, Deputy Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi and NTCA Programmes Director, Oluseun Esan, stressed that the time to enforce the law was now.

They cited a Guardian UK report of August last year, which indicted British America Tobacco (BAT) of paying militias instead of taxes to governments and introducing illegally huge amounts of money into war-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo for fraudulent transactions.

The report also indicted BAT of collaborating with rebel groups to conduct businesses and providing firearms to its employees, among others while claiming to adhere to the highest business and ethical standards.

“Phillip Morris was even more convert and daring. A Reuters report linked the tobacco giant to years of a secret global campaign to undermine the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC.)

“It was also enmeshed in controversies of a co-called Foundation for Smoke-Free World, which it would fund to the tune of $80 million over a period of 12 years. It is remarkable that WHO distanced itself from that foundation and asked global governments to do the same,” the groups said.

They, therefore, tasked the government at all levels to begin the enforcement of the nine key provisions of the NTC Act that do not require regulations such as smoke-free public places, restriction on underage access and ban of sale of single sticks, among others.

“Relevant government agencies such as the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and security agencies should begin clampdown on infractions. There is need for the commencement of mass public education to be spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and the National Orientation Agency (NOA).

“The Ministry of Health should urgently send the draft regulations to the National Assembly for approval as soon as they receive it, while Nigeria should imitate Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda that have banned shisha use and bars,” they stated.

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