By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – AS tenure of the Eight session of the National Assembly is gradually coming to an end, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, ERA/FoEN has told the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara to pass the draft National Tobacco Control Regulations Bill before leaving office.
ERA on Wednesday protested to the national assembly where it asked the leadership of the two chambers to speedy the passage of the NTRC bill to save Nigerian youths that have become victims of tobacco consumption.
The deputy executive director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi and the the NTCA Programme Coordinator, Oluwaseun Esan in a letter to the Senate President, Dr. Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dogara expressed worry that while several African countries were making progress in enacting Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, FCTC compliant laws, Nigeria was lagging behind in enacting strong policies to rein in rising tobacco use in the country.
Oluwafemi stated that the rising tobacco use in the country includes the influx of heat-not burn and several other novel tobacco products.
Quting the World Health Organisation, Oluwafemi said, “tobacco use accounts for an estimated 16,100 deaths every year with more than 3.5 million (15 years and older) and more than 25,000 children (10-14 years) using tobacco daily.
ERA and NTCA said that they believe that the draft regulation currently awaiting approval at the national assembly represents a unique opportunity for Nigeria to give the needed impetus for the smooth enforcement of its National Tobacco Control Acts 2015.
“We are aware that the current session of the national assembly will end on June 6 thereby necessitating that the national assembly needs to approve the draft regulations within weeks.
“We like to point out that the tobacco industry will embark on both overt and covert activities targeted at detailing the passage of this very important public health regulation and further remind members of the national assembly that Nigeria as a signatory to the FCTC is bound by that convention’s Article 5.3 to place public health and tobacco control above the commercial interest of the tobacco companies and their allies.
“At this critical time, we call on the leadership and members of the national assembly to resist attempts by tobacco corporations and their allies to water down the provisions of the regulations and ensure its speedy passage.
“Nigerians will count this as a legacy achievement of the current leadership and members of the national assembly.”