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Friday, May 28, 2010

Osun bans smoking in public

By Collins Nweze

The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Osun State government for signing the Osun State Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Bill 2009 into law. The agency said the decision is one of the most far-reaching efforts taken by any state in the country to safeguard public health.
The bill prohibits smoking in cinemas, theatres or the stadia, medical establishments, hotels; offices, schools and public transportation, nursery institutions and lifts.
Another major highlight of the bill is that it prohibits smoking in both private and public vehicles with a non- smoking occupant below 18.
In a statement in Lagos, the group said the government had taken a lead and demonstrated its responsiveness to the well-being of its people and public health and should be emulated by other states.
"The Nigerian tobacco control community lauds this enviable step by the Osun State government as it will go a long way in checkmating the growing number of tobacco–induced deaths that have been on the steady increase," said ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi.
He, however, noted: "Paradoxically, while Osun State has taken practical steps in safeguarding public health, the National Assembly is still foot-dragging on translating the all-encompassive National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) into law even with the overwhelming support that the bill engendered at the public hearing on July 20-21 last year.
Reiterating the group’s call for the National Assembly to expedite action on the NTCB, Oluwafemi said that Nigerians are dying by the seconds due to tobacco addiction while tobacco manufacturers smile to the banks. Every day that we delay the implementation of strict laws, there will be more deaths, more ill-heaths and the economy will suffer. The trend globally showed that only far-reaching laws can stop a gale of deaths spurred by tobacco smoke.
Tobacco currently kills 5.4 million people and if current trend continues it will kill about eight million by 2015, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).