Going by recent global report of 6 million people dying each year from tobacco related diseases, it is imperative that steps must be taken to curtail the use of tobacco. The need for quick implementation of provisions of the Tobacco Control Act and Regulations for safety of lives in Nigeria and other parts of the world should be giving priority.
It is worrisome that in Nigeria, the Tobacco Control Bill which was passed by both arms of the National Assembly and signed into Law in May 2015 by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, is yet to have to come to effect two years after becoming an Act.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy, CISLAC, at a one day workshop for journalists in Kaduna, northwest Nigeria, noted that the World Health Organization, WHO, has introduced a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC is charged with the responsibility of making research on tobacco, following agreement by 192 member states of WHO, that tobacco smoking should be controlled.
WHO report revealed that almost one billion men, 250 million women are daily smokers and one in ten death is linked to tobacco – use related diseases, while about 8 million people globally are likely to die in 2030. It is projected that the percentage of smokers will rise from an average of 16 percent to 22 and possibly as high as 27 percent by 2030 in Africa. But with strong tobacco control policies, including 100 percent tax increase in place, the smoking prevalence will decrease to 11 percent.
In Nigeria, the implementation of the Act, which has the provisions that can successfully control tobacco smoking in the country, with over 9 million smokers has already been delayed for two years; and a minimum of 18 months have to be given to the tobacco company to change their packaging before its full implementation. There shouldn’t be any reason for further delay to salvage the lives of the younger generation.
The Act seeks to protect Nigerians of the devastating consequences of use and exposure to tobacco and its products; it prohibits smoking in public places; prohibits sale or access to tobacco products to persons below 18 years of age; it increased tax on tobacco product in Nigeria; it promotes large, clear rotating health warnings and messages that cover 50 percent or more, among others.
The percentage of people smoking particularly the youth is alarming. It is enormous and therefore calls for concerted effort to arrest the signal of what befalls the country and world in the near future. The message of a healthy society is the main focus, as well as the dream of the next generation. Strict implementation by government should be made towards controlling the usage of the product by people, and the introduction of stiff penalty to defaulters.
The adverse effect of tobacco on people inhaling the smoke is devastating; it is hazardous and should be condemned in all its ramifications. The regulation for smoking need be quickly introduced; set the Tobacco Control Unit in motion, and ensure that government get to effective implementation of laws guiding smoking in the country.
The idea is for the citizens to know the existence of the Act – for them not to go against the law, as well as know the hazards of taking tobacco. The Act will control the use of tobacco to a minimal level, and its packaging be carried out in line with international standards.
Tobacco Act is a health related Act and it is to protect the health of the citizens. Everything within reason need be done to ensure that people are in good health and not suffer on account of any particular product.