Nigeria Health Minister Writes AGF, Police, NDLEA, Wants Tobacco Law Enforced Immediately

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The Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, has written to the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Nigeria Police Force over the enforcement of the National Tobacco Control Act.

In the letter addressed to Abubakar Malami and Ibrahim Idris, the attorney general and inspector general of police respectively, Mr. Adewole requested for their collaboration in the enforcement of the law.

“It has become imperative to strengthen our collaborative efforts and to urgently start implementing and enforcing the provisions of the NTC Act 2015 in order to protect and promote the health of the citizens,” Mr. Adewole, a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said in the letter obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.

“Though the NTC Act 2015 requires Regulations for full implementation, I have announced on behalf of Nigeria the enforceable provisions in accordance with the Law during the commemoration of the 2017 World No Tobacco Day.”

The letters by the health minister, also sent to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, were dispatched between June 6 and 12 to the agencies.

The National Tobacco Control Act was signed into law in 2015 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES last month, the Health minister said the implementation of the tobacco control Act had been slow because the draft regulations needed the National Assembly approval.

However, during this year’s World No Tobacco Day event themed ‘Tobacco: A Threat to Development,’ Mr. Adewole announced a list of regulations to be implemented by the Nigerian government including:

1. Prohibition of the sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below age 18.

2. Ban of sale of cigarettes in single sticks; cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 sticks only.

3. Smokeless tobacco shall be sold in a minimum of a pack of 30 grammes.

4. Ban of sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet, or other online devices.

5. Prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues.

6. Prohibition of smoking in anywhere on the premises of a child care facility, educational facility, and healthcare facility. Other prohibited for smoking include playgrounds, amusement parks, plazas, public parks, stadia, public transport, restaurants’ bar, and other public gathering spaces.

7. Prosecution of owner or manager of any of the places listed above who permits, encourages or fails to stop smoking in the above listed places.

8. Prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind.

9. Compliance with specified standards for content as set out by Standards Organization of Nigeria.

“I write to seek your total support in ensuring the urgent implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the NTC Act 2015 in order to protect and promote the health of the citizens,” Mr. Adewole added.

According to the World Health Organization, tobacco kills over seven million people annually, and is an increasing risk factor in non-communicable (NCDs), including cardiovascular disease, cancers and chronic obstructed pulmonary disease.

A 2012 Global Adult Tobacc o Survey, GATS, in Nigeria showed that more than 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed annually in the country; 5.6 per cent adults (about 4.5 million) currently use tobacco products out of which 4.1 million are men and 0.5 million women.

The survey further showed that 29.3 per cent of adults (about 6.4 million) are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke when visiting restaurants, hotels, and other public settings.

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