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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Group chides Alao-Akala over BATN

A Non Governmental Organisation, Journalists Action on Tobacco and Health (JATH) yesterday chided Oyo State Governor, Adebayo Alao-Akala over his statement that his administration would resist the closure of British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN).
The Oyo State governor had said that the tobacco company was contributing to the economy of his state and that he would frustrate moves to close down the company.
JATH, in a statement signed by its Programme Manager, Mr. Yinka Olugbade, said that Alao-Akala’s statement shows that he was not well-informed by his advisers.
According to the group, "what the governor is interpreting as moves to close down BAT is the National Tobacco Control bill sponsored by Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, which has passed the second reading at the National Assembly, which has nothing to do with the closure of BATN."
The group said that Governor Alao-Akala ought to have found out the real intent of the bill before attempting to shoot it down.
"This bill is all about properly regulating the activities of tobacco companies operating in Nigeria and not only BATN. The bill seeks to prohibit sale of cigarette to underage. It seeks to make it an offence to sell cigarettes in pieces. It seeks to make tobacco companies put graphic warnings telling people of harmful effects of tobacco smoking in order for them to make informed decision about whether to smoke or not. It also seeks to ensure that tobacco products are not readily available because of its cheap prices," said JATH.
The group described as unfortunate that Alao-Akala has allowed himself to be used by BATN as part of its propaganda to escape regulation.
The group faults Alao-Akala’s claim that BATN has contributed to job creation all over the country, arguing that more people have lost their lives as a result of smoking of cigarette.
The group said "BATN has only employed about 1,000. Countless others have died directly or indirectly through cigarette consumption. So, Governor Alao-Akala should find ought his facts before commenting. That he made the comment after embarking on a facility tour of BATN also shows that he was out on a mischief mission. He should go and get a copy of the bill and read before making comments."