By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Diseases, Department of Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe have urged
Nigerians to ensure all hands are put on deck to work with the government and other stakeholders in the implementation and enforcement of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act and its regulations.
Dr . Ezeigwe made the call in Abuja at a Stakeholders’ Session on Implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 organised by the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA).
Ezeigwe, represented by the Head, Tobacco Control Unit, FMOH, Dr. Toma Malau, said the tobacco control Act has been approved as what remains is the implementation and which cannot be implemented if the laws and regulations are left on the shelf. “We cannot implement the regulations without understanding the provisions in the regulations.
Thus, the need to sensitize ourselves and what we all should do. Tobacco control is hinged on some aspects either in the area of smoke-free, because the law says all public places should be smoke-free.
“The law also says that tobacco should not be sold to those less than 18 years and those below 18 years should not have access to tobacco. The same law also provides that the tobacco industry should not interfere with our responsibilities, and we should also stand firm to resist any temptation to favour the tobacco industry,” he said.
Sub-Regional Coordinator, West Africa, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Mrs. Hilda Ochefu, said that while Nigeria seems good in passing laws, the implementation of such laws remain challenge which must be overcome. According to her, all Nigerians must work together to ensure the successful implementation of the NTC Act in the interest of all.
Deputy Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that the lack of implementation of the NTC Act due to funding and other challenges may be exploited by the tobacco industry to reverse the gains of the passage of the law and its regulation.
According to him, more people may die because of the non-implementation of the tobacco control laws. He said that no level of tobacco is healthy for the people and that the Shisha smoking is even more dangerous than cigarette, saying a session of shisha smoking is equivalent of 100 sticks of cigarettes.
Earlier, Programme Coordinator of NTCA, Olusegun Esan said that the one day stakeholder session was intended to instigate dialogue among critical stakeholders on the coming into force of the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019. The Session among other things sought to inform stakeholders of their roles under the regulations, to create awareness and to get the commitment of all role-players to support the full implementation of the Regulations. The session discussed enforcement efforts of concerned agencies.
The meeting had representatives of various government agencies in attendance. They include the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), among others.