Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has called for strict enforcement of tobacco sales and consumption, as enshrined in the Nigeria Tobacco Control Regulation of 2019, to reduce death and diseases in the country,
CISLAC’s Programme Manager, Mr. Okeke Anya, flanked by participants during a one-day training for media professionals on Tobacco Taxation which held in Umuahia, Abia State capital
CISLAC’s Programme Manager, Mr. Okeke Anya, who made the call in Umuahia, Abia State capital, during a one-day training for media professionals on Tobacco Taxation urged the federal government to also increase taxation on tobacco to dissuade smokers and reduce the fatal health consequences arising from smoking of cigarettes.
The training had the theme “Tobacco Taxation Advocacy in Africa,” with support from Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA).
Anya noted that the Nigeria Tobacco Control Regulation of 2019 provides that retailers must sell cigarettes in packets but regretted that retailers have continued to sell cigarettes in sticks in violation of the regulation.
He said selling cigarettes in sticks makes it affordable and encourages children to continue to indulge in smoking and called on enforcers to commence strict enforcement of the regulation.
He also urged federal government to increase taxation on tobacco to boost the country’s revenue generation and discourage heavy tobacco consumption as the tax would be passed on to consumers in the form of price increase.
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Anya emphasized that “if a company losses profit this year, it can recoup next year, but a life lost due to use of tobacco is gone forever.”
He said that smoking cigarette or taking snuff has dangerous health consequences as the true face of tobacco depicts disease, death and horror.
Globally it has been projected that tobacco would kill one billion of the 1.1 billion smokers in the world if nothing was done.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills more than eight million people annually, out of which seven million die of direct use while 1.2 million die as a result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand and third-hand smoke and smoke particles respective.
Second hand smoking entails inhaling cigarette smoke being taken by another person while third hand use occurs when a person comes into contact with compounds in cigarette by using a room or facility where cigarette was smoked.
Findings from a research on the health consequences of smoking conducted in 2018, showed that more than 17, 500 Nigerians are killed by tobacco-caused diseases annually, with 207 men and 130 women dying every week; while more than 370, 000 children and more than 4, 303, 000 adults continue to use tobacco each day.
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Anya said that research has also shown that taking a stick of cigarette amounts to eating many harzardous chemicals as smoking tobacco causes exposure to a lethal mixture of more than 7, 000 toxic chemicals, including, at least, 70 known carcinogens that can damage nearly every organ in the human body.
He charged parents to watch their children closely as tobacco could now be carried in various types of gadgets which could be used to smoke or sniff the substance. According to him, a station (dose) of Shisha is an equivalent 100 sticks of cigarette.
“The risk of death and disease from tobacco rises with number of cigarette smoked but damage begins with use of a very small number of cigarettes,” experts have said.
The CISLAC Programme Manager maintained that any amount of exposure to tobacco was harmful, adding that constant exposure of the brain to nicotine, an addictive substance in tobacco, leads to desensitization which prods the user to crave for more.
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It was due to global health hazards of tobacco, he said, that the World Health Organization came up with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first public international health treaty, which Nigeria subscribed to in June 28, 2004 and ratified on October 25, 2005; same year the country passed the National Tobacco Control Act, while the Tobacco Regulation Policy came into effect in 2019.
To further draw global attention to the dangers of tobacco, the World No Smoking Day is celebrated every May 31 as experts have posited that quitting smoking makes the smoker healthier.
Programme Officer of CISLAC, Solomon Adoga, took the trainees through the role of the media in tobacco control and use of digital advocacy tools for tobacco taxation campaign.
Welcoming the participants, Executive Director of Initiative for Ideal development and Emancipatory Leadership (IDEAL Nigeria),Pastor Innocent Nwokocha, said the training was organized to enlighten media professionals in Abia on tobacco taxation which is an essential component of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.
Highlight of the training was the award of certificates to the trainees.