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Published On: Fri, May 31st, 2019

Tobacco regulation: ERA/FoEN, TCN commend NASS, want strict implementation

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Mashe Umaru Gwamna

The Environmental Rights Action/Frlends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA)have commenced the National Assembly for the passage of the Tobacco Regulation Bill.
The organisations also urged governments at all levels to ensure strict implementation of the law being passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives..
Speaking yesterday during a press briefing in Abuja, to mark the 2019 “World No Tobacco Day,” Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaigns, Environmental Rights Action/Frlends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said there are a lot of health benefits that will accrue “to us as a people from this development. We will now have a healthier citizenry, clean air to breathe, improvement in work productivity, reduced risk of fire incidents; and importantly, smokers have now been handed the incentive to quit the deadly practice”.
“Based on this, the Clerk of both Houses should produce clean copies for immediate transmission to the Federal Ministry of Health.
“The Regulations should be published in the official gazette without delay as required by Section 22 of the NTC Act 2015, and full enforcement of the NTC Act by the relevant agencies of government.
“Also, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration should give priority to the enforcement of the tobacco law,” he added.
While giving insights in to the regulation, he said the implementation could have health warnings on tobacco packs which will now constitute 50% of the principal display surfaces, adding that this will increase to 60% in four years.
He also said there will be a prescribed price list of tobacco products at Point of Sale which will not contain images, symbols, colors, signs or other contents including trade mark or branding images.
“Licensing of tobacco products N10 million each as prescribed fees before Issuance of license to manufacture, import or distribute tobacco products”
These, notwithstanding, we are not satisfied with the recommendation that the health warnings will increase only to 60% in 4 years. The recommendation of the Federal Ministry of Health was 80% and we believe this would have been ideal in putting Nigeria in the global map of tobacco control leadership like countries that have adopted as high as 85%. China and India are models in this regard. We are also not comfortable with the negligible application fees approved by the National Assembly for application for manufacturing, importing or licensing of tobacco products. We will continue advocating a review of weak provisions of the law and Regulations.”
On his part, Olu’seun Esan, who represented Tobacco Control Alliance said Tobacco control in Nigeria since last year has experienced a lot of significant milestones and “makes us confident that with all hands on deck, we will make excellent progress in the nearest future.
He added that the provisions if implemented wi|l go a long way in protecting the health of all Nigerians from the dangerous tobacco menace.
“This WNTD has the theme: Tobacco and Lung Health. It simply means death and life. Tobacco means death, good lung health means life. We therefore appeal to all Nigerians to take their health seriously by avoiding tobacco use and ensuring no one smokes near them. Tobacco is known to cause all sort of cancers, lung diseases, heart disease among others.
“As advocates in Nigeria we call on the Government to ensure the fast implementation of the just approved Tobacco Control Regulations. We also call on the Government to implement specifically the setting up ofthe National Tobacco Control Fund. Earmarking is the way to go for a sustainable effort for tobacco control. This is our asks this WNTD and we hope the Government will make concrete efforts to implement this strategies in line with the World Health Organization Framework Convention for Tobacco Control which Nigeria is a signatory to.”

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