Vice President promises tougher TC laws

Dr. Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s vice president has reiterated the government’s commitment to the reduction of tobacco use among citizens, particularly exposure of underage children to smoking.

Osinbajo, who disclosed this while receiving civil society and leaders of anti-tobacco NGO groups in Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, bemoaned the dearth of information on the dangers of smoking which has made it problematic to convince many to quit the dangerous habit.

The visit by the civil society groups was to brief the vice president on progress in the tobacco control campaigns, particularly the need for the federal government to ensure the implementation of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act 2015 in line with recommendations of the WHO-FCTC which Nigeria signed in 2004 and ratified in 2005.

Osinbajo in his remarks said the government needs the public behind it in the implementation of the law. “We need to change the public perception that smoking is a matter of choice. We also need to be more creative in passing our messages and in developing policies,” he said.

He also hinted that government would be exploring strategies on how to reduce tobacco consumption by giving every support that is needed to ensure that tobacco control laws and policies are effectively implemented in Nigeria.

Lamenting the proliferation of tobacco products in Nigeria, he charged civil society to work closely with youths to ensure that under-age initiation into smoking was reduced in the country.

Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FoEN) and a member of the delegation urged Federal Government to provide all the necessary support for the effective implementation of the NTCA 2015 and demonstrate that the era of impunity is over by bringing all tobacco companies, flouting Nigeria’s laws to justice.

Hilda Ochefu of the Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), expressed the readiness of CTFK and other international NGOs to support Nigeria in implementing effective tax policy for the tobacco industry.

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