By Christiana Ekpa and Ikechukwu Okaforadi
Senate yesterday urged the federal government to ensure the comprehensive prohibition of tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship, TAPS like the cigarette advertisement within and on windows, stores and kiosks, advertisement of smokeless or flavoured tobacco and their logos or symbols on non-tobacco objects.
The upper legislative chamber particularly advised the Ministries of Health and Education at the federal and state levels to work together to ban advertisement and location of point of sales, PoS of tobacco products within 100m of all schools in the country.
These were sequel to a motion, titled: “The need to immediately ban tobacco companies from targeting school children in Nigeria”, sponsored by Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC Lagos Central) and co-sponsored by five others at the plenary.
Other resolutions includes admonishing the Federal Ministry of Health and other relevant enforcement agencies to urgently ensure a framework for the monitoring of the implementation of the ban on single sticks and cigarette packs with less than 20 sticks as detailed in the National Tobacco Control Act 2018.
The senate also called on the Federal Ministry of Health to promote and advertise the “No sale of tobacco to minors” signage, and equally warned tobacco companies to henceforth stop tobacco adverts and sales within 100m away from all schools across the country.
In her lead debate on the motion, Senator Tinubu said the senate was “worried that there is a deliberate ploy by tobacco companies to position tobacco adverts and signs within 100m of schools to stimulate children and youth into early interest in the use of tobacco products”.
She said the survey carried out by the Nigeria Tobacco Research Group in five states across four geo-political zones unearthed the location of tobacco products PoS within visible distance of schools, with several being 100m or less away from schools.
She lamented that tobacco consumption has been associated with lung cancer, myocardial infarction, chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases and others, adding that “tobacco use is a cause of preventable death in the world; and it is projected that at least eight million deaths annually will be recorded as a result of tobacco use in 2030”.
The lawmaker added that “annually, tobacco epidemic is sustained by the addition of many youth to the population of smokers, adding that “reports have shown that four out of every five adult smokers started smoking at the age 18”.
In his contributing, Senator James Manager (PDP Delta South) said “the motion is very apt, because it is about children and they are vulnerable to the dangers of tobacco smoking”.
According to him, tobacco consumption is associated with dangerous diseases, including lung cancer, lamenting that people consume tobacco in different ways despite the warnings that smokers are liable to die young.
Also, Senators Abdulfatai Buhari (APC Oyo North), Barau Jibrin (APC Kano North), Magnus Abe (APC Rivers South-East), and Robert Boroffice (APC Ondo North) urged the government and law enforcement agencies to take urgent step to stop the adverts and sales of tobacco near schools with a view to further preventing the spread of diseases in the country.
In his remarks, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, said it is regrettable that the Federal Ministry of Health which should have taken preventive measures to save Nigerians, especially the underage, have been lacking in its responsibility on the tobacco issue.
He, therefore, called for the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2018 which prohibits the sale of cigarettes to persons under age 18, sale of cigarettes from a vending machine, sale of single sticks or packs of less than 20 sticks, prohibits advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products, bans smoking in schools and public places.