The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria(ERA/FoEN) has mobilized women to participate in the current agitation for effective tobacco control legislation in Nigeria.
In a road show tagged ‘Your Tobacco Smoke is Killing Your Woman’, ERA staff and volunteers went through major parts of Lagos including Ogba, Ikeja and Agege, distributing leaflets on how tobacco use affectswomen (as smokers or passive smokers), and other tobacco control informational materials, and offering counselling on the dangers of smoking.
The outing which was well-received witnessed ERA staff fielding many questions from market women, drivers, bus conductors and youths among others about diseases related to smoking, how to quit smoking among others.
Mrs. Miriam John-Umeh, 33, a mother of three and business woman at Agege commended the effort. “It is very good. People are happy that an organisation is interested in enlightening fellow Nigerians about such public health issues as this. Smoking is a major problem especially among our youths and everyone, including women need to be armed with information about this menace. I gave some of the materials given me to my neighbours,’ she said.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, ERA’s Director of Corporate Accountability and Head of Lagos office noted that the outing was one of a series of activities and events meant to mobilize Nigerians to support the National Tobacco Control Bill currently before the National Assembly.
‘We see the bill as one that should be treated with urgency considering that lives of Nigerians are involved. This is simply a matter of morality; to halt the continuous enlistment of our youths into smoking by multinational tobacco companies through aggressive marketing, to stop the unnecessary death of our women and children through passive smoking and the continuous economic denigration brought about by avoidable health expenses from tobacco-related diseases at a time that Nigerians most need economic liberation’.
Betty Abah, ERA’s Gender Focal Person and coordinator of the road show explained that it was targeted mainly at women, many of whom are ignorant of the facts about the dangers they face as passive smokers.
‘It is not just safe to say you are not a smoker. If you stay around a smoker, you will fall victim of the health consequences of his habit, such as the many cancers associated with smoking. Women either as wives of smokers or bartenders need to be really armed with this information to safeguard their health,’ Abah added that women as home builders and compassionate people are also being mobilized to help pressurise the government to implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) as contained in the bill.
The comprehensive tobacco control bill will ensure 100 percent smoke-free in public places, ban all forms of tobacco advertisement and promotion, ban underage smoking, ensure pictorial warnings on cigarette packs among others.
The event was sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO).