By Edoamaowo Udeme
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has called for the immediate implementation and enforcement of key sections of the 2015 National Tobacco Control Act (NTC), which calls for ban on sales of cigarette to persons below 18 in the country.
At an event to mark ‘World No Tobacco Day’, in Abuja, Adewole who expressed worry over the rate of tobacco smoking in the country, said Federal government is set to begin implementation of the Act.
Items in the Act include: “Ban on sale of cigarettes in single sticks. Cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 sticks only. Smokeless tobacco shall be sold in minimum of a pack of 30g . Ban on sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet or other online devices. “Prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues. Prohibition of smoking anywhere on the premises of a child care facility, educational facility, and health care facility”.
He said other prohibited places for smoking include; playgrounds, amusement parks, plazas, public parks, stadium, public transports, restaurants, bars, or other public gathering spaces.
“Prosecution of owner or manager of any of the places listed above, who permits, encourages or fails to stop smoking in the above listed places.
“Prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind. Compliance with specified standard for content as set out by Standards Organisation of Nigeria”.
He noted that available evidence from World Health Organization, WHO, show that tobacco use costs national economies immensely, through increased health-care cost and decrease productivity.
He added that it worsens health inequalities and increase poverty as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care.
Nigeria is currently exploring tobacco tax and levies as means of financing the Universal Health Coverage agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“Increasing taxes and levies on tobacco products can reduce its consumption and secondary generate revenue which can be used to finance universal health coverage and other developmental health programme,” he said.
Earlier, WHO country, Wondi Alemu noted that tobacco use is a leading predisposing factor for non-communicable diseases in the country.