Alarming Rate Of Child Smoking In Nigeria Inspires Launch Of #dontwaitregulate Campaign

… Activists launch petition targeting National Assembly
By Ovoko Williams

Tuesday 16 April 2019, Abuja, Nigeria – Nigerian activists through the Tobacco Free Nigeria campaign are calling on the government to stop the increasing toll of underaged smokers in the country by enforcing the law banning the sale of tobacco products to underaged persons in Nigeria.

Every day, a whooping 25,000 children in Nigeria between the ages of 10 to 14 years use tobacco products. This equates to 17 children smoking every one minute. This is a result of their relative ease of of access to cigarettes and other tobacco related products, which are sold to them by vendors.

Smoking among teenagers is known to come along with devastating consequences including health related ones such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as reduced mental development.

“Children must be protected as they lack agency and are often unwitting targets of the tobacco industry,” said Ebiuwa Uwagboe, a campaign specialist at Gatefield, the public strategy group backing the campaign. A recent survey released by Gatefield discovered that one out of every four vendors sold cigarettes to kids in the country.

The Nigerian Tobacco act of 2015 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18 but the law is not being implemented or enforced.

“While it is important to have the right laws, it is not enough. We need to enforce them now and ensure that National Assembly passes the tobacco control regulations. This is what our campaign aims to do.”

The #DontWaitRegulate campaign also released two public service advertisments which featured individuals including Fakhuus Hashim, #ArewaMeToo founder; Ogor Ben-Iweagwu, a public hospital doctor; Anna Usman, a mother and entrepreneur,and Providence Anaro, a teenage freshman at the University of Abuja.

The campaign seeks to create awareness about the existing law and pressure the Nigerian government to properly enforcing it with the passage of the regulations by the national assembly. A campaign petition page was created and the campaign is present on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram via @Tobaccofreeng.

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