Nigeria to implement strict tobacco control laws

Timothy Choji, Abuja

Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to the reduction of tobacco use among citizens particularly exposure of underage children to smoking.

Professor Osinbajo, who spoke at the Presidential Villa while receiving leaders of a group of anti-tobacco Non-governmental Organisations NGOs in the country, lamented the inadequate information about the dangers of smoking, which he said “has made it more difficult to convince many to quit the dangerous habit of smoking.”

According to the Vice President, “we need the public behind us in this engagement. We need to change the public perception that smoking is a matter of choice. We also need to be more creative in passing our messages and in developing policies about the matter.”

While lamenting tobacco products proliferation in the country, Professor Osinbajo hinted that government will be exploring strategies on how to reduce tobacco consumption.

“The Presidency will give every support that is needed to ensure that tobacco control laws and policies are effectively implemented in Nigeria,” he assured.

He charged the NGOs to work more closely with youths to ensure that under-age initiation into smoking is reduced in the country.

Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi , Deputy Director of Environmental Rights Action /Friends of the Earth Nigeria urged the Federal Government to provide all the necessary support  for the effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act (NTCA) 2015.

“We want the  Federal Government to demonstrate that the era of impunity is over by bringing all tobacco companies flouting our laws to justice,’’ he said.

For her side, Mrs. Hilda Ochefu of the Washington-based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids expressed the readiness of her agency and other international NGOs to support Nigeria in implementing effective tax policies for the tobacco industry.