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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Group reiterates call for Tobacco Law

As the world marks the ‘World No Tobacco Day' today, the anti-tobacco group, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has restated its call for the signing of the National Tobacco Control Bill into law.
Commemorated on the 31st of May of every year, the theme of this year's event is ‘The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)'.

The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the first treaty to be negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organisation, is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. It is also the first regulatory strategy to address addictive substances.
The treaty entered into force in February 2006 while Nigeria signed and ratified it in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
"The choice of this year's theme cannot be more emphatic, given the current situations in Nigeria regarding our quest to ratify the FCTC by way of a domestic law," said Akinbode Oluwafemi, director of corporate campaigns at ERA/FoEN, in a chat with journalists to commemorate the event on Monday, in Lagos.
"This year, tobacco control groups all over the world will be reappraising their stand in regard to the provisions of the FCTC," Mr Oluwafemi said.

‘Concur the bill'
The National Tobacco Control Bill, which had been passed by the Senate in March this year, has just passed the first reading in the House of Representatives.
"Essentially, what we are saying is that rather than being bogged down by the politics of the two Houses, we are saying that this is a national call and what we need is just a concurrence," said Mr Oluwafemi.
"What we are doing now is to tell you we don't want it to pass through first, second and third readings because we have just three days," noted Mr Oluwafemi, on the time before the expiration of the tenure of the current members of the House.
"What we want is that the way other bills were passed, all those bills that they passed recently like the Sovereign Wealth bill and others, they take it to the House and they say ‘I concur.' Let them concur this bill because it has to be law. We just need very little effort now to get to where we need," Mr Oluwafemi added.
The anti-tobacco activist also insisted that the tobacco control bill, contrary to public perception, "is not an attack on smokers."
"Let me tell you that most smokers in the world actually want to quit. No survey that has been done among smokers that doesn't show 40 - 60 per cent support for Tobacco Control law because they are actually looking for motivation to be able to get out of smoking," he said.
"A lot of them that have started do not want their children to smoke, that is very clear. This not an attack on anybody. We think that it is rather they should help us to ensure that they get out of tobacco addiction," he added.

Awareness on dangers of smoking
The ‘World No Tobacco Day' is commemorated every year to create mass awareness about the dangers of smoking and to pressure governments and policy makers on the need to curb deaths and ill-health caused by smoking. Latest projections estimate that by 2030, tobacco-related deaths would rise to 10 million people a year.
"We are hoping and are believing God and we are counting on the integrity of these people that the bill will be passed because we know the amount of resources that have been committed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate, that they would not allow this effort to go wasted.