By Agbonkhese Oboh
NO fewer than 48 civil society organisations, CSOs, on the platform of Africa Tobacco Control Civil Society Organisations, ATCCSOs, have written to the Senate asking it to adopt the Tobacco Control Regulations to protect the present and future generations from the health and socio-economic consequences of tobacco use.
In a letter dated May 21, the groups said the adoption of the Regulations is critical for effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015, provides Nigeria the unique opportunity to align with the requirements of the World Health Organisation-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO-FCTC, and demonstrate its global leadership in tobacco control.
According to the groups, more than 5.6 million adults and 25,000 children use tobacco each day in the country, leading to more than 16,100 deaths every year, which equates to 300 deaths every week.
Appealing to the Senators, they urged them “to resist the manoeuvres f the tobacco industry and place the health and welfare of the Nigerian population above vested interests of the tobacco industry,” pleading with the Senate to approve the draft Regulations before the expiration of their session on June 6.
The groups that signed the letter include Africa Tobacco Control Alliance; Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research; Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN; Framework Convention Alliance, FCA; Observatoire du tabac en Afrique Francophone, OTAF; Vision for Alternative Development, VALD; Health Healing Network, Burundi; Coalition Camerounaise Contre le Tabac, C3T; Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance, KETCA; Consumer Information Network, CIN; Mozambique Public Health Association, among others.
The letter read in part: “According to the World Health Organisation, WHO, tobacco use is responsible for innumerable diseases, causing almost nine of every 10 cases of lung cancer. Also, tobacco is the only product which kills more than 50% of its users.
“In Nigeria, more than 5.6 million adults and 25,000 children use tobacco each day, leading to more than 16,100 deaths every year. With a view to controlling the growing epidemic of tobacco use, Nigeria ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organisation, WHO-FCTC, in 2005.
“Ratification legally obligates the country to implement the treaty. However, we note with concern that the National Tobacco Control Act passed in 2015 is still awaiting the adoption of the Regulations governing its implementation. In the meantime, Nigeria is bearing the full brunt of an ever-increasing epidemic of tobacco use.
“Adoption of the Tobacco Control Regulations is critical for effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015. It provides Nigeria the unique opportunity to align with the requirements of the WHO-FCTC and demonstrate its global leadership in tobacco control.
“We are aware that the tobacco industry will leave no stone unturned to dissuade you from adopting the Regulations in order to continue benefiting from the legislative vacuum to market its deadly products in Nigeria. We appeal to you to resist the manoeuvres of the tobacco industry and place the health and welfare of the Nigerian population above the vested interests of the tobacco industry.
“We look forward to the approval of the draft Regulations during the current session of the Senate. It will long be remembered as your legacy and your strong commitment to protecting the present and future generations from the dire health and socio-economic consequences of tobacco use.”