senate has explained that the Tobacco Products Regulation and Control Bill 2014, being considered by it will not cause unemployment.
The upper chamber explained that the aim of the Bill was not to close down multinational firms producing the product in Nigeria, but designed to safeguard the health of the people.
The declaration was made by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, IfeanyiOkowa, during the public hearing of the Committee to consider the harmonised National Tobacco Control Bill 2012(Senate Bill) and 2014(Executive Bill) which seeks to repeal the Tobacco (Control) Act 1990.
Okowa, who was reacting to the concerns raised by the Oyo State Government that any stringent regulations in the industry would worsen the economic situation of its people, assured that the interest of all stakeholders would be taken into consideration in the passage of the bill.
The Director of Public prosecution in the Oyo State Ministry of Justice, Tajudeen Abdul Ganiyu, had told the committee that hundreds of Oyo indigenes, especially youths, would be out of job if the new bill forced the British/American Tobacco Company in Ibadan to close down its operations.
Abdul Ganiyu said, “We are looking at a situation where by the bill would put the industry out of business and throw the workers working there out of employment because we are going to suffer the immediate result of people being thrown out of market as it is going to increase the crime rate in our state.
“We are also concerned about the area of partnership between the state government and BATN. The company has been helping the Oyo people by empowering them by setting up small entrepreneurs throughout the state. We have the the tobacco farmers who are also being empowered too by the tobacco firm.
Responding, Okowa said, “Our intention in the National Assembly is not to drive the industry away by stopping them from manufacturing. We only believe that they need to be regulated so that they will continue to act in a responsible manner.
“It is not only about the industry but also about the retailers and our attitudes as Nigerians. It is a comprehensive thing. Our intention is not to create unemployment in a responsible manner.
“People have the right to smoke but we also want people to realize that smoking is injurious to their health and that they need to protect the right of other people who do not smoke and of course, the young ones need to be protected.
“Cigarette is the only product that we allow people to buy and sell in Nigeria legally even when we know it has a lot of injury and health hazards”, he said