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Monday, May 31, 2010

Today is 2010 World No Tobacco Day










Women losing the battle against tobacco use

By Ben Ukwuoma

AS the world marks this year’s World No Tobacco Day, the evidence of tobacco use among young females is increasing in many countries and regions. This has reopened the call for governments to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and to eliminate tobacco smoking in all public and work places as provided in the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. PETRESE is not only pretty, she is intelligent, too. She is also from a family that is comfortable. That gave her an early expose to many good and bad things in life. One of the bad things she herself admits to nowadays is smoking.

At 24, she has double Master’s degrees. She drinks strong alcohol like fish drinks water. And she lights another stick of cigarette before she snuffs off an earlier one. Since the last two odd years, she intermittently coughs and no medication has been able to cure it. Just last week, a comprehensive medical check on her lungs revealed large dark spots. Her physician last week broke the news of an affliction of cancer of the lungs to her heart-broken parents. Petrese is on the fast lane to early death.

But she is not alone. There are many, old and young, men and women, illiterate and elites who are hooked on excessive use of tobacco. Medically, it has been confirmed that of the over five million people who die each year from tobacco use, approximately 1.5 million are women.

Unless urgent action is taken, experts say that tobacco use could kill more than eight million people by 2030, of whom 2.5 million would be women.

Approximately, three-quarters of these female deaths would occur in the low-income and middle-income countries that are least able to absorb such losses. Every one of these premature deaths would have been avoidable.In some countries, the bigger threat to women is from exposure to the smoke of others, particularly men. Isidore S. Obot of the Department of General and Applied Psychology, University of Jos, Plateau State, carried out a study on the incidence of cigarette smoking, cigar/pipe tobacco and snuff use in the Nigerian population. In a sample of 1,271 adult heads of household (1,137 males, 134 females), the overall prevalence of regular smoking was 22.6 per cent. The proportions of regular cigar/pipe tobacco and snuff users were 17.9 per cent and 9.6 per cent. Among cigarette smokers, 60.6 per cent smoked at least half a pack a day, 11.2 per cent at least one pack a day. Males smoked more than females. The poor, uneducated respondents smoked more than the relatively rich and educated. Smoking was more rampant in the third decade of life than in other age groups. Smokers had a higher incidence of health problems and both nonsmokers and heavy smokers were less aware of the risk of smoking than light smokers. In the light of the above, it is suggested that health education should be a major component of tobacco and health policy in Nigeria. The harmful health effects of smoking cigarettes presented below only begin to convey the longterm side effects of smoking. Quitting makes sense for many reasons but simply put: Smoking is bad for health.Worldwide, of the approximately 430,000 adult deaths caused every year by second-hand smoke, about 64 per cent occur in women.

On World No Tobacco Day 2010 today, focus is on the harm which tobacco marketing and smoke do to women. At the same time, it seeks to make men more aware of their responsibility to avoid smoking around the women with whom they live and work.

Women, and men, must be protected from tobacco industry marketing and smoke, as stated in the preamble to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. In effect since 2005, this international treaty acknowledges "the increase in smoking and other forms of tobacco consumption by women and young girls worldwide" and explicitly recognises "the need for gender-specific tobacco control strategies".

Unfortunately, less than nine per cent of the world's population is covered by comprehensive advertising bans. Only 5.4 per cent is covered by comprehensive national smoke-free laws.The rising epidemic of tobacco use among women has forced the WHO to issue an alert, calling countries to protect women and girls against the sickness and suffering caused by tobacco use. In half of the 151 countries recently surveyed for trends in tobacco use among young people, approximately as many girls used tobacco as boys. More girls used tobacco than boys in some of the countries, including Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria and Uruguay.WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan says: "Tobacco use is neither liberating nor glamorous. It is addictive and deadly."

This year’s campaign theme, “gender and tobacco” with an emphasis on “marketing to women”, focuses on the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls.It also highlights the need for governments to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and to eliminate tobacco smoke in all public and work places as provided in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.Women are a major target for the tobacco industry in its effort to recruit new users to replace those who will quit or die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

"We know that tobacco advertising increasingly targets girls," said WHO Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, Dr. Ala Alwan. "This campaign calls attention to the tobacco industry's attempts to market its deadly products by associating tobacco use with beauty and liberation."

Often the threat to women is less from their being enticed to smoke or chew tobacco than from their being exposed to the smoke of others, particularly men.

"By enforcing the WHO Framework Convention, governments can reduce the toll of fatal and crippling heart attacks, strokes, cancers and respiratory diseases that have become increasingly prevalent among women," says Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative.

WHO calls on governments and the public to demand a ban on all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; to support implementation and strong enforcement of legislation to provide 100 per cent protection from tobacco smoke in all public and work places; and to take global action to advocate for women's freedom from tobacco. The health hazards of smoking are well documented, and prevention of smoking has been described as the single greatest opportunity for preventing non-communicable disease in the world today.Cigarette smoking during pregnancy is said to increase the risk of low birth weight, prematurity, spontaneous abortion, reduction in breast milk and perinatal mortality in humans, which has been referred to as the fetal tobacco syndrome. Smoking increases women's risk for cancer of the cervix. There is a possible link between active smoking and premenopausal breast cancer.

The health effects of tobacco are the circumstances, mechanisms, and factors of tobacco consumption on human health. Epidemiological research has been focused primarily on tobacco smoking, which has been studied more extensively than any other form of consumption.

Tobacco use leads most commonly to diseases affecting the heart and lungs, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer (particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer). It also causes peripheral vascular disease and hypertension, all developed due to the exposure time and the level of dosage of tobacco. Furthermore, the earlier and the higher level of tar content in the tobacco-filled cigarettes cause the greater risk of these diseases.

Cigarettes sold in developing nations are said to have higher tar content, and are less likely to be filtered, potentially increasing vulnerability to tobacco-related disease in these regions.Smoke contains several carcinogenic pyrolytic products that bind to deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and cause many genetic mutations. There are over 19 known chemical carcinogens in cigarette smoke. Tobacco also contains nicotine, which is a highly addictive psychoactive chemical.

When tobacco is smoked, nicotine causes physical and psychological dependency. Tobacco use is also a significant factor in miscarriages among pregnant smokers. It contributes to a number of other threats to the health of the foetus such as premature births and low birth weight and increases by 1.4 to three times the chance for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The result of scientific studies done in neonatal rats seems to indicate that exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb may reduce the foetal brain's ability to recognise hypoxic conditions, thus increasing the chance of accidental asphyxiation.

Incidence of impotence is approximately 85 per cent higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers, and it is a key cause of erectile dysfunction (ED).

Generally, women's reasons for smoking often differ from men's. The tobacco industry cons many women into believing that smoking is a sign of liberation, and many women wrongly view smoking as a good way of keeping slim.Controlling the epidemic of tobacco among women is an important part of any tobacco control strategy. As Mrs. Chan said: "Protecting and promoting the health of women is crucial to health and development – not only for the citizens of today but also for those of future generation. In many countries, vastly more men smoke than women, and many of those countries fail to protect nonsmokers adequately”.

In many countries, women are powerless to protect themselves, and their children, from second-hand smoke.


Girls smoke more than boys in Nigeria –WHO

By SEMIU OKANLAWON


The 2010 World No Tobacco Day (which is today) focuses on the need to ban all forms of promotion of tobacco even with a new direction to fight the recruitment of the womenfolk into smoking, writes SEMIU OKANLAWON
It may sound odd, but the World Health Organisation says more girls than boys smoke tobacco; giving new reasons why the anti-tobacco crusade must now address the womenfolk.
When on Friday, WHO called for a special protection of women and girls against tobacco, it was not as if the organisation had assumed the other members of the society needed not to be shielded from the harmful effects of what is perceived globally to be an addictive consumption.
It was because global researches have indicated a growing, worrisome trend in the habit of women and girls who take tobacco as a thing of glamour and status. WHO’s new direction of campaign is to press home the focus of this year’s World Tobacco Day.
WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said, “The trends in some countries are extremely worrisome,” adding, “Tobacco use is neither liberating nor glamorous. It is addictive and deadly.”
This 2010 campaign theme, “Gender and tobacco with an emphasis on marketing to women, focuses on the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls. It also highlights the need for governments to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and to eliminate tobacco smoke in all public and work places as provided in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” according to the global health body.
Nigeria, where the campaign against smoking has been gaining ground through the efforts of the Environmental Rights Action, is ranked among countries which WHO Director-General said the trend is pretty worrisome.
Smoking may be one habit that is generally perceived to be rife among males, but a recent survey, according to WHO, shows that there is a growing rate of tobacco use amongst girls and women. Women and girls are said to represent 20 per cent global smoking population.
“In half of the 151 countries recently surveyed for trends in tobacco use among young people, approximately as many girls uses tobacco as boys. More girls use tobacco than boys in some of the countries, including Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Cook Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria and Uruguay.
“Women are a major target for the tobacco industry in its effort to recruit new users to replace those who will quit or die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. The leading preventable cause of death, tobacco use kills more than five million people every year, about 1.5 million of whom are women,” says WHO on Friday.
And what is the nexus between tobacco and women? Or better still; what is the attraction? After strategic manners in which the anti-smoking campaigners across the world had tackled the recruitment of youths into smoking by tobacco manufacturers and marketers, there is said to be a new path manufacturers and marketers are following to force smoke down the throats of women. By linking smoking with beauty, young girls are easily fascinated and are consequently recruited into the habit.
Analysts are of the view that the same method employed in using the media to present slim girls as paragon of African beauty is being promoted to make young girls believe that their beauty is incomplete without tobacco addiction.
But it is not only those who engage in the practical habit of direct smoking that are considered to be smokers. Passive smokers abount through their inhaling of smokes in public places.
The inclusion of Nigeria amongst countries considered to be having a disturbing rate of smoking girls further reinforces the points being raised by Nigerian crusaders that the government needs to act fast before tobacco-related diseases add to its alleged unenviable record in health management.
Programme Manager of the Environmental Rights in Nigeria, an affiliate of the Friends of the Earth, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the focus on the need to save women and girls from smoking, which is the theme of this year’s tobacco day, should compel some persons in high places to act fast.
“It will interest you that the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, is a woman. And we believe that where the interests of women are concerned, a woman in the status of the senator should use her position to ensure the welfare of her fellow womenfolk,” say Oluwafemi.
His call is on the strength of a bill which was said to have been presented to the Senate by a member, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora which, according to him, is yet to be passed into law.
Among other things, the bill seeks to ban smoking in public and end all forms of promotion of the product in the country.
Mamora, who spoke with our correspondent on Sunday, said there had been deliberate moves to scuttle the bill at the National Assembly, adding that some of his colleagues who swore to defend the wellbeing of Nigerians were engaging in acts that are inconsistent with their oath of office.
Mamora said, “No amount of propaganda; no amount of purported job creation by the British American Tobacco can justify the number of lives being destroyed through the use of tobacco. This is because certain incontrovertible evidence have been established linking tobacco use to various diseases.”
In a separate statement on the 2010 World Tobacco Day, Oluwafemi called for the passing into law of the bill as a sign of government’s readiness to recognise the global concern for the health of its citizenry.
He stated, “It is a fact that dangers are associated with smoking. The World Health Organisation estimated that 5.4 million people die every year due to tobacco-related diseases, with majority of these deaths happening in developing countries.
“Tobacco is the only consumer product that is guaranteed to kill half its consumers if used according to manufacturers’ intention. It contains more than 4,000 dangerous chemicals harmful to the body.
“It is also a fact that stringent measures aimed at reducing smoking in Europe and America have driven the tobacco industry to developing countries like Nigeria, where the industry continues to flout regulations, marketing to young and impressionable youths, and hooking them on smoking.”
Indeed, another recent survey, according to Oluwafemi, also shows that two persons die each day in Lagos hospitals as a result of tobacco-related ailments.
With the theme of this year’s event, many expect that the focus will now shift to demystifying those messages being sold to girls which make them embrace smoking as a way of upping their beauty profiles.
Perhaps, that will compel manufacturers and marketers to also review strategies. But then, the health of the citizenry is at the centre of it all.



SOURCE

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nigeria Remains At A Loss Over Smoking


Friday, May 28, 2010

Osun bans smoking in public

By Collins Nweze

The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Osun State government for signing the Osun State Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Bill 2009 into law. The agency said the decision is one of the most far-reaching efforts taken by any state in the country to safeguard public health.
The bill prohibits smoking in cinemas, theatres or the stadia, medical establishments, hotels; offices, schools and public transportation, nursery institutions and lifts.
Another major highlight of the bill is that it prohibits smoking in both private and public vehicles with a non- smoking occupant below 18.
In a statement in Lagos, the group said the government had taken a lead and demonstrated its responsiveness to the well-being of its people and public health and should be emulated by other states.
"The Nigerian tobacco control community lauds this enviable step by the Osun State government as it will go a long way in checkmating the growing number of tobacco–induced deaths that have been on the steady increase," said ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi.
He, however, noted: "Paradoxically, while Osun State has taken practical steps in safeguarding public health, the National Assembly is still foot-dragging on translating the all-encompassive National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) into law even with the overwhelming support that the bill engendered at the public hearing on July 20-21 last year.
Reiterating the group’s call for the National Assembly to expedite action on the NTCB, Oluwafemi said that Nigerians are dying by the seconds due to tobacco addiction while tobacco manufacturers smile to the banks. Every day that we delay the implementation of strict laws, there will be more deaths, more ill-heaths and the economy will suffer. The trend globally showed that only far-reaching laws can stop a gale of deaths spurred by tobacco smoke.
Tobacco currently kills 5.4 million people and if current trend continues it will kill about eight million by 2015, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).



SOURCE

Women smokers risk early death, cancer

As the World No Tobacco Day approaches, the United States (US)-based National Cancer Institute has warned that women who smoke have higher risks than non smokers of early death and of developing cancer and other diseases related to the heart and lungs.
Also, women who smoke have been causioned to desist from doing so as they may experience early menopause and irregular painful menstrual period.
According to a study by Inga Cecilie Soerheim and her colleagues from the University of Bergen, Norway, cigarette smoking is more harmful to women than to men because women have smaller airways.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that 20 per cent of smokers are women.
Similarly, research has shown that most women that smoke are between the ages of 25 and 44. Besides, teenage women also make up a significant percentage, too.
Research has shown that smoking is hazardous for pregnant women. It affects the health of not only the mother but also the child.
Smoking during pregnancy may result in low birth weight, premature delivery and miscarriage. Smoking is also not advisable for those who are taking oral contraceptives because it increases the risk of stroke and heart attack in this group.
It is against this background that this year’s World No Tobacco Day that will be commemorated on Monday, March 31, has been stream lined to show how tobacco affects the female gender’s health. Although the World No Tobacco Day 2010 campaign will focuse on tobacco marketing to women, it will also take into account the need to protect boys and men from the tobacco companies’ tactics.
Smoking causes many health problems in women. It leads to irreparable damage to women’s health and to that of the people around them. A smoking habit may be difficult to break, but understanding the long-term damage may help overcome the addiction.
Apart from drawing particular attention to the harmful effects of tobacco marketing towards women and girls, the 2010 World No Tobacco Day will also highlight the need for the nearly 170 Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to ban all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in accordance with their constitutions or constitutional principles.
Explaining why the programme should focus on women, the WHO in its 2007 report, Gender and Tobacco Control: a Policy Brief, stated, “Generic tobacco control measures may not be equally or similarly effective in respect to the two sexes…[A] gendered perspective must be included…It is therefore important that tobacco control policies recognise and take into account gender norms, differences and responses to tobacco in order to reduce tobacco use and improve the health of men and women worldwide”.
In another 2007 report, Sifting the Evidence: Gender and Tobacco Control, WHO commented, “Both men and women need full information about the sex-specific effects of tobacco use…equal protection from gendere-based advertising and marketing and the development of sex-specific tobacco products by transnational tobacco companies…[and] gender-sensitive information about, and protection from, second-hand smoke and occupational exposure to tobacco or nicotine”.

By Sola Omisore


SOURCE

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BAT caught in illegal policy deal

By Our Reporter

The British American Tobacco (BAT) and the Kenya government are embroiled in a tussle over an insurance policy for farmers which the nation’s insurance regulator has declared illegal.
Following the introduction of farmer insurance last year, BAT is now offering its 5,000 contracted growers’ crop insurance against extreme weather conditions and pest outbreaks.
While farmers have lauded the move, the Tobacco Control Board has come out with guns blazing and declared the development an attempt to promote tobacco, which they say is against the law.
The policy developed by UAP Insurance in partnership with Chancery Wright has been introduced to farmers in Western Province, and is set to roll out to other regions.
The control board, however, say BAT and UAP have gone against the anti-tobacco legislation introduced in 2007 which bars the promotion of cigarettes.
"We will make sure that BAT and UAP Insurance do not get away with this because we have the law on our side," said Prof Peter Odhiambo, the Chairman of the board.
"We will deal firmly with companies that collude with cigarette manufacturers to break the law. Insuring tobacco farmers is another way of increasing the production of tobacco which is detrimental to public health. Farmers should consider alternative crops," said Odhiambo.
BAT says the board’s move has caused panic among its businesses partners who are asking whether the tobacco business is now illegal and risky.
"Our suppliers are worried and want clarification on what services tobacco manufacturers are allowed, if they cannot sell insurance to farmers," said Julie Adell-Owino, BAT’s Head of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs.
BAT says its farmers sign a binding code of conduct which restricts tobacco growing to one-quarter of the size of the farm while they must grow woodlots for fuel and environmental care.
"We provide the farmers with seedlings to grow trees, which is a condition for getting into a grower-supplier contract," Ms Adell-Owino, said, adding that the farmers are closely supervised by its field officers to ensure they do not employ child labour, that they take their children to school and grow food crops as well.
The possible action the state agency might take includes stopping the marketing of the insurance cover and taking the twin firms to court in what promises to be a protracted legal battle.
Anti-tobacco crusaders say the new insurance product marketed by BAT and UAP Insurance violates Section 24 of the Act which prohibits the promotion of tobacco products by means of testimonials or endorsements.
But Ms Adell-Owino charged: "The Tobacco Control Act does not dictate what crops anyone should grow neither does it dictate the parameters of business association or communication between industry players. It is, therefore, perfectly legitimate for us to engage our contracted farmers and continually work together for their welfare."
Already, about 1,000 farmers contracted by the multinationals have signed up for the product.
BAT says the cover is part of its corporate social responsibility seeking to protect contracted farmers who have incurred financial losses to the magnitude of Ksh150 million ($1.94 million) over the past three years as a result of natural calamities.
"Our contracted tobacco farmers are not compelled to take up the cover. If any party were forcing the hand of the tobacco farmers, then all 5,000 farmers would have had to take it up," said Ms Adell-Owino.
BAT says earnings by its contracted tobacco farmers have been on the increase, pointing to the benefits of the crop to farmers in Nyanza and Western regions.
In 2008, BAT paid its contracted farmers Ksh369 million ($4.79 million) while in 2009, it paid Ksh532 million ($6.9 million) and this year’s projection is pegged at Ksh660 million ($8.57 million).
The company is also among the country’s top tax payers. Last year it paid Ksh8 billion ($102.5 million) in taxes.


SOURCE

NASS, pass the Tobacco Control Bill

I write, to call on the Senate Committee on health. led by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello, and the leadership of the National Assembly, to move immediately to pass the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009, sponsored by Senator Olorunnibe Mamoora. The bill, which enjoyed the support of many senators is yet to be returned to the Senate Plenary after a public hearing was conducted in July 2009.
It is a fact that dangers are associated with smoking. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 5.4 million people die every year due to a tobacco-related diseases, with majority of these deaths happening in developing countries. Tobacco is the only consumer product that is guaranteed to kill half its consumers if used according to manufacturers intention. It contains more than 4,000 dangerous chemicals harmful to the body.
It is also a fact that stringent measures aimed at reducing smoking in Europe and America have driven the tobacco industry to developing countries like Nigeria, where the industry continues to flout regulations, marketing to young and impressionable youths, and hooking them on smoking.
Recent surveys suggested that more young people are becoming smokers every day, while a survey conducted in Lagos hospitals reveal that two persons die each day from a tobacco-related disease.
Governments all over the world are putting measures in place to combat the epidemic through enactment of bills, like the one Senator Mamoora is proposing.It will be to the credit of the National Assembly to expedite action on the bill and pass it before the expiration of this democratic dispensation.
Nigeria played a major part in shaping global health policies, especially in tobacco control. The world is watching and waiting. The National Assembly cannot afford to fail Nigerians.

Seun Akioye,
1, Balogun Street, Off Awolowo way,
Ikeja, Lagos.

SOURCE

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BAT gets new MD

Ms Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo has been appointed Managing Director of the British American Tobacco (BAT) West Africa.
She will be based at the BAT head office in Lagos.
Ms Spencer-Obatoyinbo joined the Rothmans Group in 1997 from the pharmaceutical industry and moved to BAT following a merger of the two companies in 1999.
She has since held various marketing and general management roles across Africa. These included Marketing Director, Nigeria, and for the last three years, the General Manager, Egypt.


SOURCE

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Blacks hit hardest by lung cancer

Blacks are hit the hardest when it comes to both developing and dying from lung cancer.
A new report from the American Lung Association paints a grim picture of how environmental factors, biological factors, cultural attitudes and biases in the health-care system conspire to make this deadly disease even deadlier among members of this minority group.
”Despite lower smoking rates, African-Americans are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than whites. African-Americans are more likely to be diagnosed later when the cancer is more advanced. Also, African-Americans are more likely to wait longer after the diagnosis to receive treatment or perhaps to refuse treatment and to die in the hospital after surgery,” Dr. William J. Hicks, professor of clinical medicine at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in Columbus, said during a Monday news conference.
Black men bear an even more disproportionate share of the burden, being 37 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer and 22 per cent more likely to die of the disease than white men.
Only 12 per cent of blacks will be alive five years after their lung cancer diagnosis, compared with 16 per cent of whites, the ALA report notes.
The report points to a number of factors that could explain the disparity, including differences in socioeconomic status, big business behavior and environmental exposure.
For instance, thanks to concerted marketing efforts by the tobacco industry, blacks have higher rates of smoking menthol cigarettes than other groups. Smokers of menthol cigarettes tend to have higher blood levels of cotinine, an indicator of how much nicotine a person is absorbing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a report on the public health impact of menthol cigarettes in March of 2011.
Education and income levels also play a role. Not only do these factors impact lifestyle choices and access to health care, including health insurance, but they largely determine where blacks are likely to work and live.
According to one study, predominantly black neighborhoods have noticeably higher levels of air pollution than other communities. And a greater proportion of blacks work in the transportation industry, where they are exposed to diesel fumes, known to contribute to lung cancer risk.
Meanwhile, blacks are less likely to have a gene variant that is targeted by a widely used cancer drug.
The good news is that if individuals, regardless of race, receive equal treatment for lung cancer, their outcomes are likely to be similar.
However, as Hicks pointed out, ”the sad truth is that not all patients receive equal treatment and for those who do not, their health outcomes are poorer.”
Blacks are also less likely to be seen by experienced or credentialed doctors and hospitals, less likely to have their disease staged, less likely to have surgery and less likely to undergo chemotherapy.
These problems have to do with both patient and provider attitudes.
”We‘re looking not just at system failures but also at issues that are deeply rooted in the history, culture and beliefs of African-Americans,” Hicks said. ”This is not post-racial America. For people of color in the United States, race and discrimination are facts of everyday life, and clearly take a toll both mentally and with regard to one‘s physical health.”
There is, first of all, the legacy of the Tuskegee (syphilis) and other medical experiments of the past, in which blacks were exploited by the U.S. health-care establishment. That‘s made trust in the medical establishment an ongoing issue, the experts said.
And while doctors appear less likely to funnel black patients to the right kind of specialists, blacks are more likely to refuse gold-standard treatment even when it is offered and available, they added.
”This is not an issue that can be solved overnight,” said Chuck D. Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. ”We‘ve made progress in reducing smoking rates and exposure to secondhand smoke, but there is still much work that needs to be done.”
Hicks said he hoped experts and community members could arrive at a new approach that will ”hopefully render this very preventable form of cancer to its state of 125 years ago, when it was a very rarely encountered medical issue, primarily before the advent of widespread cigarette smoking.”


SOURCE

Thursday, May 20, 2010

OSUN BANS SMOKING IN INSTITUTIONS

OSUN STATE government has outlawed smoking of tobacco in all its health institutions across the 3-0 local government areas and Modakeke-Ife Area office of the state.
A statement issued by the Permanent Secretary of the Hospital Management Board, Mr. Adunade Amoo, explained that that law banning smoking in public places in the states is being enforced in the state.
He also cautioned that no tobacco or tobacco products shall be displayed for sale in and around health facilities in the state, adding that there shall be no access to tobacco products within the 500 metres radius of such facilities.


By Gbenga Faturoti, Daily Independent Correspondent, Oshogbo.
Thursday, May 20, 2010 Page 19

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Study shows cigarette butts can be useful

By SEMIU OKANLAWON


Scientists in China have discovered good uses for cigarette butts reducing what could be the destructive tendencies of smoking on the environment, writes SEMIU OKANLAWON

On a daily basis, how many butts of cigarette can you count as you go about the streets? Or if you are a smoker, how many of such butts do you contribute to the littering of the environment on a daily basis? And if you happen to fling such items into a river, do you know how much damage you cause the natural habitat of fishes? But rather than allow such negative effects of those items, scientists are saying that cigarette butts, as waste elements as they appear, have capacities for some good uses. Welcome to the laboratory of some Chinese scholars who have discovered the good uses to which cigarette butts can be put.
“Chemical extracts from cigarette butts – so toxic they kill fish – can be used to protect steel pipes from rusting, a study in China has found,” reports Reuters.
In a paper said to have been published in the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly journal, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the scientists in China said they found nine chemicals “after immersing cigarette butts in water.”
In trying to detect the good uses of the chemicals, the scientists were reported to have applied the extracts to a type of steel used in oil pipes, called N80, finding out after the experiment that they protected the steel from rusting.
The scientists wrote in their report, “The metal surface can be protected and the iron atom’s further dissolution can be prevented.”
In their report, it was observed that the chemicals, including nicotine, appear to be responsible for the anti-corrosion effect.
The research, which was reportedly funded by China’s state oil firm, China National Petroleum Corporation, was led by Jun Zhao at Xi‘an Jiaotong University’s School of Energy and Power Engineering. Of course, the report readily becomes a source of interests to environmental campaigners in other parts of the world, Nigeria most especially.
Corrosion of steel pipes used by the oil industry costs oil producers millions of dollars annually to repair or replace.
Of course, in a country like Nigeria with the combined environmental problems of smoking and oil spillage in the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta, the study becomes very germane.
Interestingly, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria had been at the vanguard of the battles in the two areas. While the organisation, since its establishment, has been noted for its crusade against environmental degradation caused substantially by oil exploration activities in the Niger Delta, it has added to its body of campaigns, the battle to regulate smoking, especially in public places. Over the years, it has raised awareness on the dangers posed to human health by cigarette.
The group has worked with the World Health Organisation to promote its anti-smoking campaigns. Article 11 of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control demands each party to the protocol to adopt and implement, within three years after entry into force of the FCTC for that party, adequate measures to ensure that tobacco product packaging and labelling carry large, rotating health warnings and do not promote tobacco products by false, misleading or deceptive means.
It also requires that tobacco product packaging and labelling contain information on relevant constituents and emissions of tobacco products as defined by national authorities.
Definitely, parts of the constituents in question are those the Chinese scientists have discovered to be of good use.
As part of ERA’s battle in Nigeria, The National Tobacco Control Bill was sponsored by Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora. The bill scaled the second reading in February 2009.
A public hearing on the bill was also held on July 20 and 21 last year by the Senate Committee on Health, chaired by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
On a global scale, the researchers estimated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. “Apart from being an eyesore, they contain toxins that can kill fish,” they stated.
Kill fish? This then becomes more worrisome for those who had engaged in environmental campaigns for the Niger Delta. Oil exploration constitutes its major headache for the people of the area. At the moment, issue of compensation by oil majors for degradations caused by spills is a vexed one. And with the toxic nature of butts, there is the additional burden of coping with the smoking habits of Niger Deltans, who may have been unwittingly contributing to their woes by killing their fishing businesses through toxic substances. What the scientists are preaching is an encouragement of recycling, which, according to them, could bring an end to indiscriminate disposal of cigarette wastes.
“Recycling could solve those problems, but finding practical uses for cigarette butts has been difficult,” the researchers wrote.
China is said to have about 300 million smokers. Reportedly the world’s largest smoking nation consuming a third of the world’s cigarettes, nearly 60 per cent of men in China smoke, “puffing an average of 15 cigarettes per day.”
Even if the smoking population in Nigeria does not present that kind of threat to fishing, the discovery that substances cigarette butts contain can help a great deal in tackling corrosion is a welcome relief.
“It is ERA’s conviction that tobacco is harmful in all ramification – from planting where farmers are exposed to hazardous chemicals, and deforestation since wood will be cut down for tobacco leaf curing, to actual smoking by an individual or second-hand smoke by the unintended consumer.
“Most times, cigarette is discarded just anywhere by smokers and of course can find its way into open drains etc and ultimately in the lagoon or rivers where we get our artisanal fish. If the scientists confirmed the danger of fish consuming the stub, then it adds to the overall dangers posed by cigarettes.”
With the incessant pipeline bursts, leading to oil spillage in oil communities and consequently aggravating tension, the new discovery might interest oil majors in their efforts to curb pipeline damages which are caused not only by vandalisation by aggrieved militants, but also by corrosion due to long years of usage.
According to ERA’s Media Officer, Mr. Phillip Jakpor, a survey carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health in 1990-91 showed that 4.14 million (representing 10 per cent) Nigerians over the age of 15 years smoked and that 1.26 million were heavy smokers. Heavy smokers, by the ministry’s definition, are those who consume more than 10 cigarettes per day.
By the end of 2001 when the British American Tobacco entered the Nigerian market, the smoking rate for youths of the 13–15 age bracket had increased to 18.1 per cent.
“A more recent survey conducted in 2006 showed that 13 million out of Nigeria’s estimated 140 million people smoke cigarettes. That survey also revealed that smoking among the youth is on a 20 per cent annual increase,” Jakpor stated.
ERA has accused the Nigeria government of failing to follow up after signing the FCTC in 2004 and ratifying it in 2005.


Monday, May 17, 2010

China scientists find use for cigarette butts

Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Miral Fahmy)


Chemical extracts from cigarette butts -- so toxic they kill fish -- can be used to protect steel pipes from rusting, a study in China has found.


In a paper published in the American Chemical Society's bi-weekly journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the scientists in China said they identified nine chemicals after immersing cigarette butts in water.
They applied the extracts to N80, a type of steel used in oil pipes, and found that they protected the steel from rusting.
"The metal surface can be protected and the iron atom's further dissolution can be prevented," they wrote.
The chemicals, including nicotine, appear to be responsible for this anti-corrosion effect, they added.
The research was led by Jun Zhao at Xi'an Jiaotong University's School of Energy and Power Engineering and funded by China's state oil firm China National Petroleum Corporation.
Corrosion of steel pipes used by the oil industry costs oil producers millions of dollars annually to repair or replace.
According to the paper, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year. Apart from being an eyesore, they contain toxins that can kill fish.
"Recycling could solve those problems, but finding practical uses for cigarette butts has been difficult," the researchers wrote.
China, which has 300 million smokers, is the world's largest smoking nation and it consumes a third of the world's cigarettes. Nearly 60 percent of men in China smoke, puffing an average of 15 cigarettes per day.




SOURCE

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Australia bans glamorous cigarette packs

Published: Wednesday, 12 May 2010
The Australian government has promulgated a law which prohibits all forms of promotional texts and pictures glamorising smoking on cigarette packs, saying the move will discourage potential new smokers.
In its reaction, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has hailed the move, urging the Federal Government to emulate it.
The Australian government last week announced that by July 2012, all cigarettes sold in that country will have to be in plain packaging - meaning the packs will henceforth carry no tobacco industry logos, no brand imagery, no colours, and no promotional text other than brand and product names in a standard colour, position, font style and size.
Article 11 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control requires each party to the protocol to adopt and implement, within three years, measures to ensure that tobacco product packaging and labelling carry large, rotating health warnings and do not promote tobacco products by false, misleading or deceptive means.
It also requires that tobacco product packaging and labelling contain information on relevant constituents and emissions of tobacco products, as defined by national authorities.
In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said, ”The Australian government‘s move complements global efforts to curb the gale of deaths spurred by the deceptive promotional packs of the tobacco industry. It is highly commendable and timely in nipping the renewed efforts to woo underage persons into smoking through beautiful packs, colours and logos.”
Akinbode explained that ”The move by the Australian government is a step further in implementing Article 11, which ensures that all packets of tobacco products, and any packaging and labelling used in retail sale of tobacco products, carry rotating series of health warnings which must describe the harmful effects of tobacco use, and other appropriate messages that should cover at least 50 per cent, on average, of the principal display areas.”
Continuing, he said, ”This enviable move by the Australian government should ginger our lawmakers to expedite action on the National Tobacco Control Bill currently stagnating in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. It is ironic that Nigeria, which signed the FCTC in 2004 and ratified it in 2005, is still lagging behind and prevaricating on domesticating the FCTC in form of state and national laws.”
The National Tobacco Control Bill was sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Senator Olorunnibe Mamora, and it scaled the second reading in February 2009.
A public hearing on the bill was also held by the Senate Committee on Health, chaired by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, on July 20 and 21, 2009.
The committee is expected to send the reports of the public hearing to the Senate plenary, after which a vote will be taken on the bill.
Senate President David Mark had also hinted that the Senate would vote individually on the bill, as against the usual practice of a voice vote.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Court Dismisses Application of Tobacco Firms

Justice Wada Abubakar Omar of a Kano State High Court has dismissed the application of three tobacco companies challenging, among other issues, the jurisdiction of the court to entertain a suit filed against them by the Attorney-General of the state.
The International Tobacco Limited; British American Tobacco Plc and British American Tobacco Investment Limited refered to as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants respectively had, in separate notices of preliminary objections challenged the jurisdiction of the court and prayed for an order setting aside the writ of summons served on them on the ground that they were defective.
The 2nd defendant hinged its objection on the failure of the plaintiff to obtain leave of the court prior to the writ of summons, non-compliance with the provisions of Sections 98 and 99 of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act Cap S 6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and non-compliance with the provisions of Order 5 Rule 14 of the High Court of Kano State (Civil Procedure Rules 1988.
BAT argued that the plaintiff erroneously relied upon Order 12 Rule 21 of the Kano State (Civil Procedure Rules 1988 which it claimed is inapplicable.But for the BAT Investment Limited, the order should be set aside because the Order granting leave to serve it the writ of summons was wrongly granted.In his ruling, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent in Kano yesterday, Justice Abubakar Omar dismissed all the application of the defendants.He said, “The application of the 2nd defendant as contained in its notice of preliminary objection is devoid of any merit and same is hereby dismissed.The 3rd defendant’s application fails and is hereby dismissed.
With the resolution of all the six issues for determination against the 4th defendant/applicant, the entire application of the 4th defendant/applicant fails and it is hereby dismissed.”


SOURCE

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Raise cigarette tax now and save our future

By Akinshola Owoeye

Health practitioners and tobacco control experts have proposed to the federal government that taxes on cigarettes should be increased to discourage more smokers. The increment from a cigarette tax is twofold: raising state revenue and achieving public health policy goals such as discouraging the use of tobacco.
It is a known fact that smoking kills. Currently, it kills over 5.4 million people annually.
More than 70 per cent of these deaths occur in developing countries.
Hundreds of victims, including celebrities, youths, and the old have died of tobacco related diseases. A random survey in eleven government owned hospitals in Lagos State in 2006 threw up a shocking statistics: two people die each day from a tobacco related disease. That was four years ago. Today the number will be higher and it will assume an alarming and frightening rate if we consider the impact on the entire country.
In fact, in developed countries, cigarette companies are levied with high taxes that serve as source of revenue for their governments as a way of discouraging smoking.
Their governments collect the tax to support its operations and to influence the macroeconomic performance of the economy. In the state of New York alone, increases in tobacco taxes raise about one billion dollars as revenue every year. Just last month, the state was considering raising tobacco taxes yet again because the rate of youth smoking had gone down drastically.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which came into force in 2005 and which has been signed and ratified by over 168 countries including Nigeria, has taxation as one of its elements. The signatories recognise that price and tax measures are effective and important means of reducing tobacco consumption in various segments of the population, particularly among the youth. The FCTC maintains that if this is achieved, it could prevent about five million deaths in a year.
In this context, I will define tax as an involuntary fee - or, more precisely, “unrequited payment” - paid by individuals or businesses to a government (central or local). Taxes on tobacco products can be regarded as sales taxes. They are generally held to discourage retail sales, since poor people spend a higher proportion of their incomes on commodities like food, cigarettes and so on.
The reason for increasing tobacco tax is not new. According to Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations, (1776) “sugar, rum, and tobacco are commodities which are nowhere necessaries of life, which are become objects of almost universal consumption, and which are therefore extremely proper subjects of taxation.” It has been proved beyond doubt that when the price of cigarettes goes up, the use of cigarettes comes down.
According to a Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) report, youth smoking rates rose badly between 2001 and 2008 because young people could afford to buy a pack of cigarettes or the individual stick. The cost of a pack in Nigeria ranges between N120 and N180, while the same pack goes for $6 in Maine, USA, and in the United Kingdom costs seven pounds.
In Maine the price increase in 2009 went from $1.34 to $6. This has not only discouraged smoking but it has lowered the rate in the region.
Keeping prices high is an important way for governments to show they have the interest of the people at heart, because poor smokers tend to spend a higher proportion of their income on tobacco and this has compounded their health challenges.
Here in Nigeria the price of a pack of cigarettes should be increased to a minimum of N1500 and sale of single sticks should be discouraged for the same reasons. This is a matter of health, not just a tax policy. When the price is increased more people are likely to quit or to reduce consumption, which will improve health and release income for other uses. The health of the people should override every other interest, including the economy, because it is when we are alive that we can talk about economy.
Senate President, David Mark said during a public hearing on the National Tobacco Bill 2009 organised by Committee on Health: “We stand between health and economy that is the truth of the matter. People who are against it are worried about the impact on the health of Nigerians and people who are for it are saying well, the nation stands to benefit from it. The simple question is, when do you begin to worry about economy, is it when you are dead or when you are alive?”
The statement is clear enough. We should not allow the baseless arguments of tobacco companies to deceive us. Nigerians are dying daily due to tobacco addiction while tobacco manufacturers smile all the way to the bank. The tobacco tax must be increased to save lives!


Akinshola Owoeye is Project Officer, Nigeria Tabacco Control Alliance



SOURCE

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Nigeria: 'Emulate Australia in Banning Tobacco Promotion'

Nasir Imam

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the federal government to emulate Australia's move to ban the promotion of tobacco.
The Australian government last week announced that by July 2012, all cigarettes sold in that country will have to be in plain packaging - meaning no tobacco industry logos, no brand imagery, no colours, and no promotional text other than brand and product names in a standard colour, position, font style and size.
In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi said, "The Australian government's move complements global efforts to curb the gale of deaths spurred by the deceptive promotional packs of the tobacco industry. It is highly commendable and timely in nipping the renewed efforts to woo underage persons into smoking through beautiful packs, colours and logos."
"This enviable move by the Australian government should ginger our lawmakers to expedite action on the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) currently stagnating in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. It is ironic that Nigeria which signed the FCTC in 2004 and ratified in 2005 is still lagging behind and prevaricating on domesticating the FCTC in form of state and national laws," Akinbode noted.
The National Tobacco Control Bill was sponsored by Deputy Minority Leader Senator Olorunnibe Mamoora and scaled the second reading in February 2009.
A public hearing on the bill was also held on July 20 and 21 last year by the Senate Committee on Health, Chaired by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
The committee is expected to send the reports of the public hearing to the Senate plenary after which a vote will be taken on the bill. Senate President, David Mark had also hinted that the Senate will vote individually as against the usual practice of a voice vote.

SOURCE

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pass tobacco control bill


I write to call on the Senate Committee on Health led by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo -Bello and the leadership of the National Assembly to move immediately to pass the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009, sponsored by Senator Olorunnibe Mamoora. The bill, which enjoyed the support of many senators is yet to be returned to the Senate Plenary after a public hearing was conducted in July 2009.
It is a fact that there are dangers associated with smoking. The World Health organisation estimated that 5.4 million people die every year due to a tobacco related diseases. The majority of these deaths occurred in developing countries. Tobacco is the only consumer product that is guaranteed to kill half of its consumers if used according to manufacturers‘ intention. It contains more than 4,000 dangerous chemicals harmful to the body.
It is also a fact that stringent measures aimed at reducing smoking in Europe and America have driven the tobacco industry to developing countries like Nigeria.
Recent surveys suggested that more young people are becoming smokers every- day, while a survey conducted in Lagos hospitals reveals that two persons die each day from a tobacco related disease. Governments all over the world are putting measures in place to combat the epidemic through enactment of bills like the one Mamoora has proposed.
It will be to the credit of this National Assembly to expedite action on the bill and pass it before the expiration of this democratic dispensation. Nigeria played a major part in shaping global health policies especially in tobacco control. The world is watching and waiting. The National Assembly cannot afford to fail Nigerians.

Seun Akioye
1, Balogun Street, Off Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brand challenges: Tobacco firm under fire




ERA praises Australia for banning cigarettes in glamorizing packs

ERA: Press Release, May 2, 2010

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has hailed the Australian government for promulgating a law which prohibits all forms of promotional texts and pictures glamorizing smoking on cigarette packs saying the move will discourage potential new smokers and is worth emulating by the Nigerian government.

The Australian government last week announced that by July 2012, all cigarettes sold in that country will have to be in plain packaging – meaning no tobacco industry logos, no brand imagery, no colours, and no promotional text other than brand and product names in a standard colour, position, font style and size.

Article 11 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires each Party to the protocol to adopt and implement, within a period of three years after entry into force of the FCTC for that Party, effective measures to ensure that tobacco product packaging and labelling carry large, rotating health warnings and do not promote tobacco products by false, misleading or deceptive means.

It also requires that tobacco product packaging and labelling contain information on relevant constituents and emissions of tobacco products as defined by national authorities.

In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi said, "The Australian government’s move complements global efforts to curb the gale of deaths spurred by the deceptive promotional packs of the tobacco industry. It is highly commendable and timely in nipping the renewed efforts to woo underage persons into smoking through beautiful packs, colours and logos."

Akinbode explained that " The move by the Australian government is a step further in implementing Article 11 which ensure that all packets of tobacco products, and any packaging and labelling used in retail sale of tobacco products, carry rotated series of health warnings which must describe the harmful effects of tobacco use, and other appropriate messages that should cover at least 50 percent on average of the principal display areas"

"This enviable move by the Australian government should ginger our lawmakers to expedite action on the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) currently stagnating in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. It is ironic that Nigeria which signed the FCTC in 2004 and ratified in 2005 is still lagging behind and prevaricating on domesticating the FCTC in form of state and national laws," Akinbode noted.

The National Tobacco Control Bill was sponsored by Deputy Minority Leader Senator Olorunnibe Mamoora and scaled the second reading in February 2009.

A public hearing on the bill was also held on July 20 and 21 last year by the Senate Committee on Health, Chaired by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.

The committee is expected to send the reports of the public hearing to the Senate plenary after which a vote will be taken on the bill. Senate President, David Mark had also hinted that the Senate will vote individually as against the usual practice of a voice vote.