No More Smoking Of Cigarettes In These Places…

The federal government has announced a ban on the sale of cigarettes to persons below 18 in the newly introduced laws regulating tobacco smoking in the country.

During a press briefing in Abuja as part of activities to mark the ‘World No Tobacco Day’ on May 31st, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, said the government would begin implementation of various prohibition laws guiding the use of Tobacco in the country before the end of 2017.

While noting that the continuous use of Tobacco without regulation has affected the country’s economy through increased healthcare cost and decreased productivity, Adewole said that it has also led to household poverty as smokers will rather spend on tobacco than other matters that would help their lives progress.

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The Minister disclosed that the government would also explore increasing taxes and levies on Tobacco use so as to reduce its consumption and also generate income to finance developmental health programmes. In his words:

“Having carefully analysed the NTC Act 2015, I wish to announce with a high sense of responsibility that government will begin implementing the following provisions:

  • Prohibition of sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below 18.
  • Ban of the sale of cigarettes in single sticks – Cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 sticks only and smokeless tobacco shall be sold in a minimum of a pack of 30 grams.
  • Ban of sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through mail, the internet or other online devices.
  • Prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues and
  • Prohibition of smoking in anywhere on the premises of a child care facility, educational facility, and health care facility.

“Other prohibited places for smoking include playgrounds, amusement parks, plazas, public parks, stadium, public transports, restaurants, bars, or other public gathering spaces.”

Adewole stated that the owners or managers of any of the places listed above, who permits, encourages or fails to stop smoking in the above-listed places will be prosecuted.

In his statement, Adewole also announced the prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind and compliance with specified standard for content as set out by Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that smoking and other tobacco use kills more than seven million people annually, and has warned countries, including those in the Caribbean of the dire environmental impact of tobacco production, distribution and waste.

According to WHO, tougher measures were needed to rein in tobacco use, urging countries to ban smoking in the workplace and indoor public spaces, outlaw marketing of tobacco products and hike cigarette prices.

In a statement, WHO Director-General, Margaret Chan warned that the annual death toll of seven million people had jumped from four million at the turn of the century, making tobacco the world’s single biggest cause of preventable death.

“Tobacco threatens us all. Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”

In a report, WHO warned that “by 2030, more than 80 percent of the deaths will occur in developing countries, which have been increasingly targeted by tobacco companies seeking new markets to circumvent tightening regulation in developed nations”.

The report stated that tobacco use also brings an economic cost with the WHO estimating that it drains more than US$1.4 trillion from households and governments each year in healthcare expenditures and lost productivity or nearly two percent of the global gross domestic product.

In addition to the health and economic costs linked to smoking, the report also examined the environmental impact of everything from tobacco production to the cigarette butts and other waste produced by smokers.

“From start to finish, the tobacco life cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process,” WHO Assistant Director-General Oleg Chestnov said in the report.

Detailing how growing tobacco often requires large quantities of fertilisers and pesticides, the report warned that tobacco farming had become the main cause of deforestation in several countries.

The report estimates that the industry emits nearly four million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, the same as around three million transatlantic flights. And waste from the process contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens, WHO said.

Once in the hands of the consumer, tobacco smoke emissions spewed thousands of tonnes of human carcinogens, toxic substances and greenhouse gases into the environment.

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WHO said cigarette butts and other tobacco waste make up the largest number of individual pieces of litter in the world and urged governments to take strong measures to rein in tobacco use.

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