By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The federal government has inaugurated the 2nd National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC) in Abuja.
Speaking during the inauguration on Wednesday, minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire,reiterated the importance of the inauguration in the fight against tobacco use in Nigeria.
He said the committee reaffirmed the commitment of the Federal Government to effectively tackle the tobacco menace in our country.
Ehanire, said tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke is a leading cause of illness, impoverishment, and death in the world. “And the greatest risk factor for non-communicable diseases like hypertension, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.”
Peoples Daily recalls that Nigeria signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
In fulfilling her obligations to the treaty, Nigeria enacted the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act in 2015, and the National Tobacco Control Regulation, which was passed and gazetted in 2019.
Section 2(1) of the NTC Act empowers the the Minister of Health to set-up the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC), which comprise of members drawn from the Federal Ministries of Health; Environment; Justice; Education; and Agriculture, representatives from the Nigeria Customs Services (NCS); National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON); National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA); Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC); Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN); and the Civil Society Organisation (CSO).
Ehanire said the 1st NATOCC was inaugurated on the 12th of July, 2016 and developed the draft National Tobacco Control Regulations, after a series of rigorous consultations.
He said terms and references of the committee include; to make recommendations to the Minister where necessary, on development and implementation of tobacco control policies, strategies, plans, programmes and projects, in accordance with WHO FCTC, on its implementing guidelines and on protocols;
Administer and manage the Fund of the committee;
Screen or process applications for license to manufacture or import or distribute tobacco or tobacco products;
Make national tobacco control regulations for the approval of the Honourable Minister of Health;
Coordinate multisectoral national youth smoking prevention programmes involving MDAs, faith-based organization, civil society organisations and other stakeholders;
Develop strategies for the counseling and rehabilitation of smokers, particularly those eager to quit smoking;
Work with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant Agencies on alternative cropping for tobacco farmers
Perform other functions as may, from time to time be assigned by the Honourable Minister of Health.