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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ERA Lauds Senate over Passage of Tobacco Bill

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Senate over yesterday’s (Tuesday) passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill, saying the legislative house has delivered a major public health tool that will save the lives of millions of Nigerians from tobacco-induced deaths.
The Senate had in a unanimous vote passed the bill which was sponsored by Senator Olorunimbe Mamora representing Lagos East Senatorial District.
Mainly, the bill domesticates the World Health Organisation (W.H.O) initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global standard for tobacco control. Nigeria has signed and ratified the treaty.
Major highlights of the bill passed yesterday include: Ban on single sticks sale of cigarettes; ban on tobacco advertisement, sponsorship and promotions, ban on selling cigarettes to persons under the age of 18; ban on smoking of tobacco products in public places which includes airports, schools and public buildings; and regulations on manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products in Nigeria.
ERA/FoEN Director of Campaigns Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “We salute the courage of the Nigerian Senate for giving this nation a strong tool to revert growing deaths from tobacco products. Though, this has taken us so long, we are confident that this bill will save millions of our brothers and sisters from tobacco -related deaths.”
The group commended the sponsor of the bill Senator Olorunimbe Mamora for “standing firm in the dogged fight and underhand lobbying by the tobacco companies to undermine the passage of this very important bill.”
“We also rejoice with the sixth session of the Nigerian Senate because it will be remembered in the history of our nation for passing a bill which will place Nigeria on the map of other progressive countries that have initiated policies and measures reduce smoking and its attendant ill-health’s. This senate will also be remembered for passing a people oriented law which is aimed at safeguarding our public health and improving the lives of Nigerians”, Akinbode added.
He however pleaded with the leadership of the National Assembly “to fast –track the remaining legislative process to ensure that the bill is presented for presidential assents quickly.” 
 The National Tobacco Control Bill repeals the Tobacco Control smoking Act of 1990, which was promulgated under the military and championed by former Health Minister, late Olikoye Ransome Kuti. The current bill is a comprehensive law providing for regulations of supply and demand measures of tobacco products. The bill was presented on the floor of the senate for second reading in February 2009 and a public hearing was conducted in July 2009 before its eventual passage.