By Agbonkhese Oboh
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria ERA/FoEN has said Federal Government was taking too long to gazette the National Tobacco Control Regulations following the passage of the National Tobacco Control, NTC, Act 2019 by the National Assembly in May.
Speaking at a briefing on “Gazette the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 Now” in Lagos, on Monday, Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA’s Deputy Executive Director, said they had anticipated that by now everyone would be celebrating the implementation of NTC Act and the regulations.
According to him, “we believe that the delay in the gazetting is being exploited by tobacco multinationals to entrench their hold on the Nigerian market.
“We are calling on the Ministry of Health to see the regulations process to its very conclusion. The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enahire, and Senator Olorunimbe Mamora have records of great works in tobacco control. We anticipate that their employment will reinvigorate tobacco control efforts.
“As the yuletide sets in, we expect a further escalation of tobacco industry activities to market their deadly wares. Unfortunately, the target will be our innocent youths.”
Also speaking, Philip Jakpor, Head, Media & Campaigns, said although the government said they were working on the process of gazetting, it was too slow and unacceptable.
He noted that tobacco multinationals were already fraternising with farmers and government officials, which should not be.
Recall that the NTC Act was passed in May and the Regulations include:
*All forms of tobacco products shall carry health warnings;
*50% graphic health warning in all tobacco products, to be automatically increased to 60% in four years;
*Increased smoke-free areas, mandatory and uniform notices, and duty of owners to report and enforce:
*Stringent conditions for designated smoking areas;
*Licensing for manufacturers, importers and distributors of tobacco products;
*Comprehensive annual reporting system from the tobacco industry to the Federal Ministry of Health;
*Prohibition of tobacco industry interference/participation in control activities and
*Stronger penalty for defaulters, among others.