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CISLAC calls for timely intervention and Implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015

By ORIH CHIBUIKE, The Nigerian Voice, Abuja

A non Governmental Organization, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy centre (CISLAC) Wednesday called on Nigerians to pay attention to public health issues and play active role in ensuring that the National Tobacco Control Act, which was signed into law during Jonathan's Administration is effectively implemented.

Executive director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa gave the advised during a press briefing with the theme "A call to Action" in Abuja, said Globally, tobacco consumption remains the leading cause of preventable deaths.

He noted that Statistics by the WHO reveal that over six million people die annually from tobacco consumption, adding that progression in this order will by the year 2030 amount to over eight million deaths annually with 80% of these death occurring in developing countries.

Auwal Ibrahim said that Nigerian's Global Adult Tobacco survey (GATS) release on july 11 2013 also reveal that 10.0% of men, 1.1% of women, and 5.6% overall 4.5 million Nigeria adults currently use tobacco product.

"Sadly, with the above statistics, the Act still has a number of shortcoming that include the disturbing recourse of the Federal Ministry of Health to the National Assembly to issue regulations and also the allowing of designated smoking Areas(DSAs) in some indoor places and workplaces", he said.

He recalled that the Federal Government of Nigeria in May 2015 signed into an Act the National Tobacco Control Act 2015.

Auwal Ibrahim said the conference is a wake up call to ensure that Nigerians are offered clean and safe environments, adding that the NTCA 2015 is as a result of a long and tedious campaign which spanned a decade with Tobacco control Advocates from the civil society, health practitioners, regulatory Agencies and the citizenry to have enforceable tobacco control legislation.

He added " that prior to the ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Nigeria only had a weak and poorly implemented tobacco control policies such as the tobacco smoking(control) Act 204 which was a direct replacement to the formal Tobacco Smoking (control) Decree 20 of 1990, the code of Advertising practice (APCON), 1993. These decrees and policies did not proffer efficient tobacco control in Nigeria as tobacco production, sales and consumption remained an indiscriminate practice in the country.

Auwal Ibrahim called on the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole to as a matter of urgency constitute a National Tobacco Control Committee to speed up the function of making regulations to govern the implementation of the Act.

He noted that taxation have been proven to be a good way to discourage purchase of tobacco products, thereby called on all stakeholders especially government Agencies whose mandate to ensure tobacco control redesign the tax regime of Tobacco industry with CSOs collaborating in initiating a tobacco tax campaign.