Tobacco control regulatory agencies will soon be given more powers to enforce tobacco prohibition laws to protect Nigerians from exposure to second-hand smoke and other related issues, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has declared.
Hon Dogara also lamented that data show that while over seventeen thousand people are said to be killed by tobacco-caused diseases, while more than three hundred and seventy thousand children and over four million adults continue to use tobacco each day, a report published by the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) group estimates that the Nigerian government spends as much as 591 million dollard yearly on treatment of diseases resulting from tobacco consumption in the country.
He was speaking at the opening of an interactive session on the draft bill, National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2018, by the House Committee on Delegated Legislation at the National Assembly.
Hon Dogara noted that other areas that the law seeks to regulate are: the manufacture of tobacco, packaging and labeling; advertisement and promotion; sale, as well as interaction between government and the tobacco industry.
“It is note-worthy that the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, has widened the areas where tobacco smoking is prohibited in Nigeria. This is in furtherance of the right of every person to a clean and healthy environment and the right to be protected from exposure to second-hand smoke. The areas that have now been designated as no-smoking areas are contained in the Second Schedule of the Act. The other areas that the law seeks to regulate are; the manufacture of Tobacco, packaging and labeling; advertisement and promotion; sale, as well as interaction between Government and the Tobacco industry.”
He explained that while the law on tobacco control has been in existence since former President Goodluck Jonathan assented to the National Tobacco Control Act in 2015, its implementation has been impossible because its regulatory documents have not been approved by the legislature, hence the submission of the the draft National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2018, which is now being considered, by President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday 20th December, 2018.
“Let me recall that, on 27th May, 2015, former President Goodluck Jonathan assented to the National Tobacco Control Act, which effectively repealed the Tobacco (Control) Act 1990 as the extant Legislation on the manufacture, sales, advertising and promotion of Tobacco products in Nigeria. But since then, its implementation has not been possible, because the regulations document needed to be returned to the National Assembly for approval before they could be fully implemented. However, president Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday 20th December, 2018, transmitted the draft National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2018 pursuant to section 39 (1) of the Act, requiring the approval of the National Assembly,”…..”In the light of this, the House of Representatives intends to give the Regulations speedy approval so as ensure the full implementation of the Act.,” he declared.
The speaker disclosed that the House of Representatives is taking this task seriously because various countries of the world implement control measures on the consumption and advertisement of Tobacco because of the harmful effect of Tobacco use and Nigeria is no exception.
He added, “Nigeria, as a notable Tobacco market and influential country in Africa, ratified the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005. The aim of the Convention is to ensure that tobacco and tobacco product control policies of State Parties are implemented over and above the commercial and other interests of the tobacco industry. It provides a framework for Tobacco control measures to be implemented by the Parties at the National, Regional and International levels in order to reduce continually and substantially the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
“A lot of Nigerians are exposed on a daily basis to environmental Tobacco smoke, also known as second-hand smoke. This poses serious health risks, especially among infants. Records show that exposure to second-hand smoke is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths. According to World Health Organisation, tobacco use kills more than seven million people annually and cost over 1.4 trillion dollars in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.
“In our country, over seventeen thousand people are said to be killed by tobacco-caused diseases, while more than three hundred and seventy thousand children and over four million adults continue to use tobacco each day. Also, a report published by the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) group estimates that the Nigerian government spends as much as 591 million Dollar yearly on treatment of diseases resulting from tobacco consumption in the country.”