By Agbonkhese Oboh
Anti-tobacco activists have said health professionals have the greatest potential of any group to promote the reduction of tobacco use, as only a few people understand the specific health risks of tobacco use.
They made this point during a briefing to mark the World No Tobacco Day, in Lagos, adding that a disturbing reality is the fact that the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 that can make smokers quit are yet to be enforced.
The Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi; Joy OLuchi, both of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation, CAPPA; Dr. Francis Fagbule, a dentist with University College Hospital; Esther Aghotor of Gatefield; Joyce Jakavula and Lugile Nkosi from Pretoria, South Africa, and Hilda Ochefu of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, spoke for these points at the briefing.
Oluwafemi stated that “The theme of this year’s commemoration, ‘Commit to Quit,’ is significant in view of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on smokers.
“Research has shown that COVID impacts are more precarious for smokers who are already susceptible to lung damage due to smoking.”
He added that a gap in Nigeria’s tobacco control efforts is the lack of sustainable funding “which was recommended in Part 3, Section 8(1) of NTC Act 2015.”
However, Akinbode noted, the Federal Government can easily fund it with the revenue it gets from the tobacco industry.
For Oluchi, the government can easily utilise the primary healthcare centres, PHC, across the country as centres to reach out to smokers with enlightenment and cessation advice.
On the roles of health professional in helping smokers quit, Dr. Fagbule said research showed that brief advice from health professionals can increase quitting success rates by up to 30%, while intensive advice increases the chance by 84%.
He urged health workers to follow the 5As formula: ‘Ask’ about tobacco use; ‘Advocate’ cessation; ‘Assess’ willingness to quit; ‘Assist’ in attempts to quit and ‘Arrange’ follow-up. These, Fagbule said, would be combined with offers of pharmacotherapy— Ask, Advise, Refer/Ask, Advise, Connect.