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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The tobacco control bill

As the elections inch closer, the Senate last week passed a bill that will eventually give Nigeria one of the strongest anti-tobacco laws on the continent. Sponsored by Olorunimbe Mamora, a senator (Lagos East) on the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the bill is called the Nigerian Tobacco Control Bill.

It’s essential components include: raising a National Tobacco Control Committee to shape the future of tobacco control policies and guide implementation; A comprehensive ban on smoking in public places, and the sale of cigarettes by or to minors; and detailed specifications on points of sale notice. That is not all, however. The bill has finally given legal backing to a directive by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) which a few years ago banned all sorts of advertisement, sponsorship, promotion, testimonials and brand stretching of tobacco products across the country.

The bill is also to ensure that health messages cover 50 per cent of the areas where tobacco products are to be displayed, while the minister of health is empowered to prescribe pictures or pictogram and ensure that the law is effectively implemented. As it is now, the bill has only been passed by the Senate. It is to be sent to the House of Representatives which will hopefully pass it before it goes to Goodluck Jonathan for his assent. We at NEXT do not expect the House to have any fundamental disagreement with the version that has been passed by the Senate.

The upper house had, in the two years the bill was with it, ensured that all the stakeholders – civil society groups, tobacco manufacturers, health experts and the general public – had their say at the public hearings that preceded the debates and the passing of the bill. Mainly, the Nigeria Tobacco Control bill domesticates the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The treaty is the first global health treaty which is mandatory on all WHO members. Nigeria has signed and ratified the treaty.

We commend this step by the Senate and plead with the House not to water down this laudable bill. Passing it into law could help this set of lawmakers become one of the most proactive to have passed through the hallowed chambers. It is a great contribution to public health. We make this appeal because we know that tobacco products have for several years wreaked havoc on our people. This is our opportunity to curb this terrible scourge.

A few years ago, some states like Lagos, Gombe, Kano and Oyo sued some tobacco companies, asking them to pay billions of naira for the damages their products had caused their citizens. For instance, Lagos sued for ₦2.7 trillion claiming that research carried out by its staff in hospitals across the state show that at least two people die daily owing to tobacco-related diseases; and that the state had recorded about 20 per cent increase in the smoking rate over the past two decades with reported cases of 9,527 tobacco-related diseases in government-run hospitals monthly, in one of Nigeria’s most populous states.

This is a high figure and a high price to pay for a disease with a cause that is known and preventable. And that is only for a state that has cared to carry out research on what it costs it to treat tobacco-related diseases.

We salute the doggedness of Mr. Mamora, the civil group Environmental Rights Action (ERA), the United States based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), the media and other groups that fought for the enactment of this bill. However, the fight will not simply be over because the House and the President assented to it. Implementation of the clauses of the bill must be monitored and adhered to. Only then would it help our public health and protect us from the fatal tobacco-related diseases.


CHECKING SMOKING

THE Senate has passed the National Tobacco Control Bill, which puts a ban on tobacco adverts, smoking in the public places, and under-age smoking, among other things. The passage of this bill is unique for two reasons. First, it is a piece of legislation that addresses both the sanctity of human health and wellbeing on the one hand, and the problematic interface between the demands of human subsistence and the need for natural balance in the eco-system within our environment.

Second, it serves as an affirmation of the commitment of Nigeria to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC); a global treaty.

The seriousness and commitment of Nigeria to the international convention on tobacco control as demonstrated by the passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill has portrayed the country in good light, being in the league of countries making concerted efforts towards promoting clean and sustainable ecosystem. The world has shown considerable concern for the environment. In addition, the passage of the bill is a pointer to a positive change in international diplomacy, and favourable attitude towards international conventions and treaties signed and ratified by Nigeria. In the past, such conventions, even when ratified, remained mere promissory obligation not backed by any enforceable Nigerian law.

Without doubt, the debate leading to the passage of the bill, two years after its introduction at the floor of the parliament, must have weathered long and stormy sessions with the inevitable debacle between social and high moral philosophical claims of the puritans, and the purely economic-cum-business interest protagonists. Moreover, considering the tobacco market configuration and business opportunities in Nigeria, the bill could not have been passed without the interference and disturbing menace of lobbyists who would have done everything possible to make sure the bill was never passed into law.

It is against this background that we commend the legislators for the passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill. However, laws, no matter how elegantly codified, do not implement themselves, and the tobacco bill is no exception. We call on the Nigeria Police to educate its officers and men on what constitute the essentials in the new law. This is crucial to forestall unnecessary harassment, and or, arrest of innocent citizens by men of the Nigeria Police Force. The new legislation must not turn to a ‘cash-cow’ for the ‘few’ unscrupulous officers and men of the police.

Besides, to reap the utmost benefits from the newly enacted law, relevant agencies of governments must embark upon massive public enlightenment campaign at all levels to ensure awareness, and reasonable compliance.

It is reasonable to project that the effect of this legislation on tobacco control will yield positive result, i.e. a significant reduction in the recorded incidence of diseases that have cigarette smoking and tobacco- related substance as their major causal factor. Unfortunately, because of lack of functional and credible medical statistics, we may not be able to quantify the benefits in monetary terms; but for sure, the burden of medical care will become so light for everyone, when more people become aware of the medical implications of tobacco smoking or chewing as the case may be.

However, when the new legislation is stripped of its legal coatings, the inevitable but cruel reality is that people (Nigerians) in their hundreds will lose either their jobs or means of livelihood over time. The picture is not rosy, especially, when we consider that the labour market is already saturated with desperate and despondent applicants. The Federal Government will do well to step up its marshal plans to provide jobs for the country’s teeming, able-bodied, willing, but unemployed youths and adults.


SOURCE

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ERA lauds Senate over passage of Tobacco Control Bill

THE Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Senate over yesterday’s 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.

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 to reduce smoking and its attendant ill-health. 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 said.
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.
 
 

Two years after, Senate passes Tobacco Control Bill

The Senate yesterday banned tobacco adverts and smoking in public places as it passed the National Tobacco Control Bill.

It passed the bill about 25months after its presentation.

The bill, sponsored by  Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, representing Lagos East Senatorial District, domesticates the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global treaty for tobacco control, which the country ratified some years ago.

Major highlights of the bill include:  ban on tobacco advertisement, sponsorship and promotions, ban on selling cigarettes to persons under 18, ban on smoking of tobacco products in public places which include airports, schools and public buildings, warning messages on tobacco packs and regulations on manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products in Nigeria.

The Bill repeals the Tobacco Control Smoking Act of 1990, which was promulgated under the military and championed by former Health Minister, the late Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti. 

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) praised the Senate for the passage, saying the Upper Chamber has delivered a major public health tool that will save the lives of millions of Nigerians from tobacco-induced deaths.


SOURCE

ERA lauds Senate over passage of tobacco bill

THE Environmental Rights Action and Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended members of the upper chamber of the National Assembly for passing the National Tobacco Control bill yesterday.
The non-governmental organisation said the lawmakers have  delivered a major public health tool that will save the lives of millions of Nigerians from tobacco-induced deaths.
The senators 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 (WHO) initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global standard for tobacco control. The country  has signed and ratified the treaty.
Highlights of the bill passed yesterday include:  a 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 include airports, schools and public buildings;  warning messages on tobacco packs and regulations on manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products in the country.

SOURCE

Group commends passage of tobacco bill

Lead ImageThe Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FOEN) has commended the Senate over passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill. They say the lawmakers have delivered a major public health tool that will save the lives of millions of Nigerians from tobacco-induced deaths.
According to the group, “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 had earlier lamented the delay by the National Assembly in passing the law of the National Tobacco Control Bill, saying that delay in the passage of the bill may cost the nation more tobacco-related deaths.
Senate to be remembered
“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 progressive countries that have initiated policies and measures to reduce smoking and its attendant health risks. 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,” the group said in a press statement made available to NEXT. The national tobacco bill bans the sales of single sticks of cigarettes, tobacco advertisement, sponsorship, promotions, selling cigarettes to persons under the age of 18 and smoking of tobacco products in public places.
The group however, urged the leadership of the National Assembly “to fast-track the remaining legislative process to ensure that the bill is presented for presidential assent quickly.”

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.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Passive smokers risk lung cancer, chronic diseases

As at 8.30p.m., dinner had been ready over an hour ago, yet, Mrs. Tina Coker could not contemplate having her meal behind Charles, her husband.
Having cultivated the habit of waiting for family dinner from the on set of her marriage four years ago, Tina waited. For her, it was a routine. No sooner than Charles arrived 10 minutes later than the couple had their meal. Shortly afterwards, another routine exercise was set to take place. Charles brought out cigarette from the pocket of his trousers, struck a match and lit it. As he smoked and puffed the cigarette smoke, Tina simply sat back and watched unconcerned.
Although, Tina does not smoke, living with Charles has exposed her to cigarette smoke in the last four years. The main concern, however is that it does not bother her. Tina is not the only woman that is exposed to cigarette smoke. Thousands of women in rural and urban centres are equally exposed to cigarette smoke.
Although, many may not know the negative impact of smoking cigarette, which is finely ground tobacco wrapped in paper, research has shown that the use of tobacco, in any form at all, either smoking, chewing or snuff, is quite dangerous. To raise awareness on the danger that cigarette and other tobacco products pose to health, a seminar on the impact of tobacco on health held in Lagos last week.
Tagged, Protecting Women from Tobacco Smoke, the seminar was organised by the the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The event, which brought participants from the media, civil society groups and representatives of women organisations, among others took place in Ogba, Lagos.
WHO estimates that cigarette smoking kills one-third to one half of all lifetime users, and that smokers die an average of 15 years earlier than non-smokers.
According to the world body, in 2020, tobacco use will kill six million people worldwide. More frightening is the fact that 72 per cent of them live in low and middle-income countries including Nigeria. If the trend of tobacco use continues, WHO stated that tobacco will kill seven million people annually by 2020 and more than eight million people annually by 2030.
In her presentation, a Consultant Public Health Physician at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr. Kemi Odukoya said smoking causes diseases not only for smokers but for those inhaling the smoke.
The risks associated with tobacco use include 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, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancers).
According to a recent study, women who smoke are more likely to develop lung cancer than male smokers. Women also seem to need fewer cigarettes to do so.
Similarly, women also find it more difficult than men to quit.
Odukoya warned that the risk tobacco poses to health affects both smokers and people who inhale second hand smoke (SHS) or passive smokers. SHS also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke is the situation where people who do not smoke are exposed to tobacco smoke by people around them who smoke.
Besides, Odukoya noted that women are particularly at risk of SHS. Why are medical experts concerned about SHS?
Odukoya said inhaling smoke from other people’s cigarette is even more dangerous than individual smoking because it involves main stream smoking and side stream smoking. “Because we need to breathe to live, we keep inhaling the tobacco smoke,” she said, adding that this should be avoided.
“Though, not widely known, the effects of passive smoking can be as deadly and even the same as those who smoke directly,” stated ERA/FoEN. Most victims of second hand smoke are women and children, mostly the wives and children of those who smoke.
Others include people who work in public places such as bars with high smoking rates.
It is a fact that SHS can happen via exposure in homes, homes of friends, work places, public places including parties, parks, etc.
She urged Nigerians to advocate for smoking ban in public places and to promote smoke-free legislation.
In her presentation, Mrs Betty Abah, gender focal person, ERA/FoEN, called for speedy passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill, which is before the National Assembly.
The bill will ensure a 100 per cent smoke-free public places, ban all forms of tobacco advertisement and promotion, ban under-age smoking, ensure pictorial warnings on cigarette packs, among others.