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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

‘Tobacco Kills 280,000 Nigerians Yearly’

-James Sowole

A Non-governmental Organi-sation (NGO), Campaign for Free Youths Nigeria (CTFY), yesterday, raised alarm that tobacco smoking related diseases accounted for the leading cause of preventable deaths in Nigeria, killing 280,000 annually, with 800 dying daily. The figure, it said, was expected to rise to 500,000 annually if the current trend continued unchecked.

The NGO gave the figure at a workshop it organised for stakeholders in Akure, Ondo State in collaboration with the Environment Right Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA) on the WHO-initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Treaty implementation and the ongoing National Tobacco Control Bill before the National Assembly.

According to the organisation, tobacco companies' assault on the African continent has led to rising smoking rates, particularly among youths and women, thereby increasing tobacco- related diseases. Delivering a paper, the Programme Manager of ERA, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, said tobacco companies in the past three decades have intensified their market expansion strategies in several African countries and make the continent their prime target due to stricter regulations in Europe and North America. Oluwafemi, who was represented by the Africa Regional Coordinator of Framework Convention Alliance, Mr Adeola Akinremi, lamented that despite enormous facilities to treat heart-related diseases in advanced countries, there are no much cigarette factories. He said it was an irony that despite lack of infrastructural facilities, there are various tobacco manufacturing companies in Nigeria with various deceitful means to sustain their operations. He therefore called on the Ondo State Government to initiate a bill against tobacco smoking which should be fashioned after the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009 before the National Assembly.