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Thursday, February 26, 2009




It is established fact, both scientifically and legally, that tobacco is dangerous as it contains over 4,000 potent, toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, associated with over 200 diseases, preventable deaths and a significant drain on world economy, particularly the healthcare sector. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and several organizations are unanimous that tobacco consumption is a scourge; failure to control its spread would have serious and fatal consequences for citizens of the world.

The increasing hostility and regulatory restrictions from western and other more developed nations have caused tobacco companies to flock to developing countries in order to increase their business and profitability. Sadly, developing countries like ours, with notorious drawbacks of illiteracy, corruption, weak institutions and regulatory competencies, but which have teeming populations, are increasingly becoming targets of the exploitative and deliberately deceptive strategies of marketing by these profit- driven companies. Furthermore, Nigeria's health system remains inadequate and unable to cope with the scourge and the impending epidemic. A majority of smokers in Nigeria are illiterate, living in rural areas that hardly have sufficient facilities to treat tobacco related diseases. The major tertiary hospitals do not have the necessary interventions that are so important and needed timely. Consequently there is an urgent need to enact legislation to curb this preventable scourge, with appropriate modalities for holding the industry accountable for the injuries it causes.

WHO promoted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which is a model legislation that many health-conscious countries have signed and ratified, Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention and as such has an obligation to enact the required legislation controlling the distribution and consumption of tobacco products. It is further to our obligations under this Convention that I seek to introduce this legislation, with the range of restrictions and provisions therein.


Most western countries have enacted similar legislation, which has successfully diminished high smoking and exposure rates. Legislation, similar to the one at hand, is also known to have brought about significant tangible benefits for the health systems in those countries. Of the several efforts and initiatives worldwide, the most effective have been when lawmakers rise in unison to make the wide ranging provisions to control the adverse effect of tobacco, as contained in this Bill. The industry has been known only to change its behaviour when it is confronted with serious statutory provisions that regulate and control its operations. Further, some of the greatest success stories in tobacco control both legally and health-wise have been due to legislation, since they have had the singular effect of holding the industry accountable and responsible for the injuries it causes.

Tobacco is the only product that when used as designed by manufacturers will surely kill or harm the user. Legislation is required to compel tobacco manufacturers to take responsibility for their actions, to secure and safeguard our future by curbing the consumption by our youth and children and to ensure that our citizens remain healthy, in a smoke-free environment. In the absence of comprehensive legislation, Nigeria would be unable to either regulate the industry or protect our current and future generations from the hazards of tobacco consumption.

We do not only need to act, but we need to act urgently. Current statistics show that in Nigeria:

i) Smoking and exposure to smoke has gone up to 20% from 2% in the 1980's
ii) The smoking rate amongst young women under 18 has increased by over 16% in the last 10years.
iii) 90% of cocaine, hemp and other drug user begin such habits from smoking cigarettes.
iv) Most armed robbers, rapist and cultists admit to either smoking or using drugs before embarking on their nefarious activities.

The Tobacco industry has long deceived us into believing that smoking is a matter of choice. Most smokers picked the habit as children, from peer pressure or in school, all in a bid to 'belong'. Most countries in the world, inclusive of Nigeria, understand that persons under 18 are incapable of making informed choices, hence the age of voting, criminal responsibility and obtaining drivers license is pegged at 18 and above. From the health standpoint alone, the reality of escalation of tobacco consumption and its adverse effects in our midst is staggering. In Lagos State, reports from 11 of 26 public hospitals where research was conducted show that about 2 people die everyday from tobacco related diseases. The average tobacco related disease can take up to 20years to manifest. If what we are seeing now is alarming and only a result of past consumption, we cannot even begin to imagine what to expect in the future, now that smoking rates have increased dramatically. The time to act is now!

A sober consideration for us as Lawmakers is that it is not just a question of pro-activity when we pass this law; it is a constitutional duty and responsibility. Our Constitution mandates us, under its Chapter 11, The Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, to enact laws to protect all vulnerable groups(including women and children), our communities the society and the environment.

We are grappling with many contending issues of priority at this stage of our development. We certainly need to provide leadership to our people and other parts of this Continent by creating a system where the tobacco industry can be compelled to submit to appropriate regulation and control.

Essentially the proposed Legislation, if supported, will succeed in providing a framework for the:

· Protection of the Nation's public health by enhancing public awareness of the hazards and dangers associated with tobacco use.
· Protection of young persons and others from the inducement to use tobacco and tobacco products and the consequent dependence on them by restricting access to tobacco.
· Protection of the rights and health of non-smokers, endangered through environmental tobacco smoke whilst also protecting the environment.
· Controlling and restricting the sale of tobacco in sticks and in public places.
· Providing effective warnings in graphics and languages spoken in Nigeria, such measures being most beneficial to the non-literate of our population.
· Restricting the promotion of tobacco products, adverts and sponsorship which particularly target minors and promote industry-funded awareness, campaigns and education.
· Affording us with the appropriate legal mechanisms to assist Government and injured persons to seek redress against the tobacco industry for injuries caused as a consequence of tobacco consumption.
· Making the profit-driven tobacco industry responsible and accountable for their activities, as they currently remain oblivious to the adverse effects and concerns that emanate from the consumption of its harmful products.


Our Constitution under Section 14 subsection 2(b) specifically states that
"the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government".
If we passed this bill into law, we would have fulfilled a fundamental objective of government more so as responsive and responsible representatives of our constituents.

I thank you in anticipation of your most cherished support.

Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora.