Health Economist Seeks Regulation To Enhance Effective Operations Of Tobacco Industry

A United Kingdom based Health Economist, Dr Damilola Olajide, on Wednesday called for a regulation that would enhance effective operations of tobacco industry in Nigeria.

Olajide made the assertion in a paper entitled: “Balancing Regulation with Product Health Hazards: Case for Tobacco Use in Nigeria” at a Policy-Dialogue event.

It was organised by the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) in Lagos.

According to him, the objective of any regulatory policy is to ensure that regulation works effectively and in the public interest.

“For highly regulated products, such as tobacco industry, a fair balance has to be made to all areas involved in the public interest, that is, those who consume the products and those that don’t.

“Sovereignty also plays a critical role as regulations takes different shapes dependent on various factors such as capacity, economy, infrastructure and funding among others.

“The role of regulations for products and services is always critical to the success of any economy.

“This means foreign laws should not be copied into Nigeria without considering the local peculiarities,’’ he said.

Olajide, who is also Senior Research Fellow with the IPPA, said in a developing economy agenda, each economy has a right to protect the jobs and livelihoods it provides to its citizenry.

“Tobacco industry employs lots of Nigerians and in economic sense the triple of those employed have dependents.

“Frustrating legal tobacco producers in Nigeria will be to the advantage of illicit traders who will take advantage of the unintended consequences to perpetrate their illegal.

“In this circumstance, the regulators will totally lost control,’’ the health economist said.

Olajide added that policies and laws should always be implemented before the consideration for new policies to plug whatever gaps that may exit in the laws not necessarily creating new one without “test-running” the old law.

According to him, laws have to be tested, evaluated, gaps identified and addressed before new policies/laws are introduced.

“It should not just adopt the guideline provided by other developed economies which have different challenges and gaps and instead drive for an economy that works for the peculiarities of that locality.

“Undue influence by lobbyists and non-governmental organisations that have insufficient experience in managing governmental affairs needs to be managed accordingly.

“They have a role to play as possible conscience of the society, but some of them are plagued with corruption that makes them vehicles to further the interests of others through the source of their funding,’’ he said.

Also, a legal practitioner, Mr Jiti Ogunye, urged the Organised Private Sector (OPS) to be involved in governance to ensure good laws were enacted while the bad ones were abrogated.

In a paper entitled: “Lawmaking and Execution in Nigeria: The Roles of Private Sector”, Ogunye said that OPS should be interested in the business of lawmaking and governance as it would impact on them.

“The Organised Private Sector should be interested in getting bad laws killed, even if it warrants lobbying the legislators. OPS should also take self-regulation more seriously,’’ he said. (NAN)


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