Enforce Tobacco Control Regulations – CSO urges FG

By Chimezie Godfrey

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has called commencement of full enforcement of the NTC Act and its regulations.

In a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, the commended the Federal Ministry of Health and Justice strategic roles they played, culminating in the gazetting of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) regulations.

The Deputy Director, (ERA/FoEN),  Akinbode Oluwafemi, however, said that it is not yet time for celebration as the crucial funding mechanisms needed to implement the law is yet to be in place.

Oluwafemi pointed that lack of funding for tobacco control may be exploited by the tobacco industry to initiate illicit engagements of the NTC Act 2015 and the NTC regulations 2019.

Tobacco leaves

He equally expressed dissappointment over the fact that in the 2020 national budget there was no provision establishment of the tobacco control fund.

While he expressed fear that the tobacco industry in Nigeria may take advantage of the current issue of lack of funding tobacco act implementation to further cause more havoc in the society.

“We anticipate that the tobacco industry will exploit such a loophole to further market death to our people, particularly the youth.

“Nigerians will witness more tobacco industry corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, more tobacco industry state level engagements and more activities targeted at the youth, who are the replacement smokers.

“We are worried that in recent months, CRS activities have escalated. The Lagos fair which had British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) as one of its sponsors readily comes to mind.

“We are using this medium to demand swift actions including inter-governmental agency collaboration commencement of full enforcement of the NTC Act and its regulations.”

He added that there is need for the inauguration of the tobacco control fund as a seamless mechanism for funding tobacco control in Nigeria.

Oluwafemi recommended the prompt enforcement of the provisions of the law, particularly ban of sale of cigarettes to minors, ban of sale in single sticks and implementation of pictorial health warnings.

“On our part, we are ready to continue partnering with government at all levels to ensure Nigerians enjoy the full health benefits that the NTC Act 2015 and its regulations will unleash,” he stressed.

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