The Federal Government has banned the use of flavoured tobacco, especially Shisha, in public places, and directed security agencies to arrest anyone found inhaling the substance.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, made this known on Monday in Abuja, in an event organised to mark the 2018 World No Tobacco Day celebration in Nigeria with the theme, ‘Tobacco Breaks the Heart Choose Health, Not Tobacco’.
This was even as he said Nigeria losses $800 million annually to stroke, heart disease and diabetes, even as the projected accumulated loss to tobacco in 2015 has been put at $7.6 billion. He explained that evidence has shown that for every $1 gain from tobacco business about $3 was expended on healthcare cost.
Worried over the increasing rate of tobacco-related deaths in the country and the world in general, a work plan was developed and launched by the minister on the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act, which could be implemented by stakeholders before the approval of the NTC Regulations, to curb the use of tobacco products in the country.
“The work plan outlines education, enforcement and monitoring for compliance including the ban on sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below 18 years of age; ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind; ban on smoking in public places; and ban on sale of tobacco products in piecemeal quantity but in packs of 20 sticks for cigarettes or 30g for smokeless tobacco.
“The FMOH is also looking beyond the work plan as we are developing a comprehensive 5-year National Tobacco Control Strategic Plan that will provide the roadmap for complete tobacco control. In addition to this, the FMOH participated actively in the review of the Nigeria Industrial Standard for tobacco products convened by Standards Organisation of Nigeria in collaboration with Consumer Protection Council (CPC).
“A key outcome of this review was the ban on all characterizing flavours including the addition of menthol into tobacco products. This decision is to protect our children from getting enticed by flavoured tobacco products. Let me stress that the ban on tobacco products with characterizing flavours is still in place and the ban includes shisha because it has flavour. I therefore urge the CPC and the law enforcement agencies to intensify arrest of defaulters,” he said.
According to him, there were more than 1 billion smokers globally and more than 7 million people were killed annually by tobacco. Of this figure, he said more than 6 million die from direct tobacco use, and close to 900,000 die from exposure to second-hand smoke.
“Data from 2014 WHO – NCD Global Status Report showed that heart related diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease killed 38 million (68%) persons out of the 56 million global deaths recorded in 2012, and sadly, more than 40% of these deaths occurred before the age of 70 years. It is generally agreed that tobacco will kill more than 50% of its users when used exactly as recommended by its manufacturers.
“Globally there are more than 1 billion smokers, and more than 7 million people are killed by tobacco annually. Of this, more than 6 million die from direct tobacco use, and close to 900,000 from exposure to second-hand smoke. I must add that the low and middle income countries including Nigeria bear nearly 80% of the global burden.
“This indeed calls for increased awareness on the impact of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand tobacconpro on cardiovascular health,” he added.
Adewole who exposed plans of tobacco producing companies to hide under the guise of non-governmental organisations on a Smoke-Free World to partner with thee public to further project their businesses, advised Nigerians to be careful in entering into partnerships they weren’t sure of.
“May I inform you that we are not oblivious of the conscious efforts by the tobacco industry to project their business above the health of the public. In view of this we are duty-bound to protect Government Laws, Regulations and Policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with the WHO FCTC Article 5.3 and the NTC Act 2015. Recently, Philip Morris International (PMI) under the guise of the ‘Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’ is persuading the public to partner with the Foundation.
“May I caution in strong terms that all Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Academia, Professional bodies, Non-Governmental Organizations and members of the public not to accept support from or enter into partnership agreement with this Foundation or any tobacco industry or their front groups as this might lead to irreconcilable conflict of interest. If the tobacco industry means well they must stop manufacturing tobacco products,” he added.