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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ERAFoEN demands presidential assent on Tobacco Bill

As governments and public health advocates plan towards this year’s World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) which holds on May 31, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has sent a strong appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan to use this year’s commemoration to sign the recently passed National Tobacco Control Bill. 

In a statement issued in Lagos and signed by ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability & Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi, the organisation urged President Jonathan to sign the National Tobacco Bill (NTCB) to celebrate the global event.ERA/FoEN also asked the Health Minister, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu to take the lead in the processes that will lead to the signing of the bill ahead of the World No Tobacco Day. 

The 2012 WNTD has as theme: Industry Interference, and urges governments to protect their public health policies from vested and other tobacco industry interests.
Oluwafemi said: “Countries all over the world have made specific and strategic efforts to combat the dangers of smoking especially among the youths by putting laws in place to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco products.

The enactment of national laws and the domestication of the World Health’s Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) are singular efforts in this direction.

“Nigeria has made giant strides in fulfilling our international obligations by attempting to domesticate the FCTC through the National Tobacco Control Bill, but we are afraid these gains that we have worked for as civil society organizations, legislators and the Ministry of Health will be reversed if the President does not sign this bill to commemorate the WNTD 2012.

“The theme for this year, Preventing Industry Interference in Tobacco Control policies is very instructive because Nigerians are worried that the bill which was passed with overwhelming public support is yet to be signed into law by the President. This is a bill that would have direct impact on Nigerians. It is the dividend of democracy for Nigerians.

“The group also called on the President to ensure that Nigeria does not renege on its international commitments to the FCTC, as this could damage the country’s international reputation while it can irreparable damage in the country’s public health.

“We call on President Jonathan to demand today for the National Tobacco Control Bill.  The President cannot allow the tobacco industry to influence and derail his transformation agenda by providing qualitative healthcare for Nigerians. The whole world is waiting for Nigeria, the African continent is awaiting our leadership. The President should provide this leadership,” he stressed.