Tobacco control campaign during a pandemic—lessons and opportunities

…Decries non implementation of tobacco control Act

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance, NTCA, Tuesday, lamented the alleged government inability to make budgetary provision for the tobacco control fund.

The NTCA made up of a network of Civil Society Groups, CSGs, Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, Community-Based Organizations, CBOs, Faith-Based Organizations, FBOs, and several professionals have decried the none implementation of the national tobacco control Act six years after it was assented into law by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Speaking while briefing journalists in Abuja, the Chairman of NTCA, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi expressed worry why the government was yet to implement section 8 (2) and sections 23 and 26 of the national tobacco control regulation 2019 which provides for annual budgetary allocation, gifts, donations, testamentary dispositions, subventio a, license fees and proceeds of sale of forfeited items to be paid into the fund.

The group enjoined the Federal Ministry of Health and other critical ministries, departments and agencies (MDA’s) to operationalize the tobacco control fund.

NTCA accused tobacco industry of working in cahoots with ‘disgruntled’ government officials to frustrate the operationalization of the fund.

It asked the Health Ministry to start the collection of licensing fees from tobacco products.

NTCA also demanded that a percentage of taxes and other levies from tobacco products should be earmarked for the fund.

The NTCA Chairman, Oluwafemi, who was flanked by the Project Officer, Chibuike Nwokorie, said, “Sustainable funding of tobacco control will help in reducing the death and diseases associated with tobacco smoking in Nigeria and delays means the nation will lose more of its citizens to tobacco addiction.

“On the other side timely operationalisayiom of the tobacco fund means the nation will be able to save more lives and protect many more form of diseases associated with smoking.”

The National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 regulates all aspects of tobacco control including smoke free places, tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, tobacco packaging and labeling, prevention of tobacco industry interference, tobacco product disclosures, the creation of a National Tobacco Control Committee.

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