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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Health minister declares war on tobacco


Following frightening statistics which indicateas that Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of deaths in the world which puts more than five million people on the death row every year, surpassing HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined, the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, has declared war on tobacco.
Further to this, he has called for strong vigilance against tobacco companies, who he said portends more danger to people than any other killer item.
The minister gave the indication in Abuja during the celebration of the 2009 World no Tobacco Day. He called upon persons who smoke, snuff, chew tobacco, or uses it in any other manner to use the World No Tobacco Day to reflect on their actions and desist from doing so considering the health risks associated with tobacco use and the disease and preventable death it causes.
Osotimehin lamented the unscrupulous ploy of the tobacco industries who are continuously guided by profit motive to put the lives of people on danger. “Tobacco companies spend tens of millions of dollars every year turning new users into addicts and keeping current users from quitting” said The Minister. Adding that, through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continue to diver attention from the deadly effects of its products.
He emphasized that tobacco is the only legal consumer product that kills one third to one half of those who use it as intended by its manufacturers, with its victims dying on average 15 years prematurely. Professor Osotimehin estimated that half the people that smoke today (about 650 million people) will eventually die of tobacco related diseases with 40% from Cancer, 35% from heart disease and stroke, 25% from lung diseases.
Revealing further that “every cigarette smoked takes 7 minutes off a smokers’ life and some one die from tobacco related ailment every 8 seconds”.Osotimehin called on other states of the federation to adopt the FCT Administration’s ban on tobacco smoking in public places in the FCT.The minister used this years’ World no Tobacco Day entitled “Tobacco Health Warning” to announce the ministry’s introduction of Tobacco free club in secondary schools, integration of harmful effects of tobacco into PHC services, and cessation programmes in all tertiary health institutions and PHC catchments sites in Nigeria.