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Monday, June 1, 2009

ERA commemorates World No Tobacco Day 2009

Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FOEI) commemorates the WNTD 2009 with the theme "Tobacco Health Warnings". This is as appear on packs of cigarettes and believed to be the strongest defences against the global epidemic of tobacco.

According to Akinbode Oluwafemi, Programme Manager, ERA/FOEI, "the WNTD 2009 focuses on the importance of using graphic images on cigarette packaging to aggressively discourage smoking. Nigeria is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and therefore cannot remain indifference while other signatory countries are adopting pictorial warnings to save lives. Picture-based health warnings on tobacco packages have been found to work in countries like Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand. The World Health Organisation particularly approves of tobacco health warnings that contain both pictures and words because they are the most effective at convincing people to quit. This according to him contrast with the glamorous cigarette packaging on display in Nigeria.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control obligates its more than 160 countries parties to require "health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use" on packs of tobacco and their outside packaging and recommends that the warnings contain pictures. On World No Tobacco Day 2009, and throughout the following year, WHO through its Tobacco Free Initiative department represented by various anti-tobacco NGOs in 160 countries will encourage their governments to adopt tobacco health warnings that meet all the criteria for maximal effectiveness, including that they cover more than half of the pack, appear on both the front and back of the pack and contain pictures.

Adeola Akinremi, African Regional Coordinator, Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) speaking on the occassion insists that, "Nigeria must act now as a mark of respect for International Agreement contained under Article 11 of the FCTC, in which parties agree to require all packages of tobacco products to carry Pictorial health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use, or other appropriate messages. This information "should be 50percent or more of the principal display areas but shall be no less than 30percent of the display. He explains "principal display areas" as the front and the back of most cigarette packs. “We are aware the Nigeria Senate is under pressure from British American Tobacco (BAT) and other tobacco companies over the current Tobacco control Bill before its health committee, but we urge the Senate to keep to its promise to legislate to protect its citizens. ” He added.

Campaign materials for World No Tobacco Day 2009, including posters, flyers, stickers, mouse pads, fact sheets, graphs, and a 24-page brochure, are available for free download from the World Health Organization