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Friday, February 27, 2009

ERA Commends Senate over anti-tobacco Bill

Thursday, February 26, 2009


The NIGERIA NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL BILL 2009 is been Sponsored by Distinguished Senator Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora of the Lagos-East Senatorial Constituency.

A copy of the Final Version is now available for download


Distinguished gentlemen of the press, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this very important press briefing. Today we are witnessing a very important milestone in the history of public health in Nigeria. Today, our dear country can hold her head up in the comity of nations that have put public health and safety of her citizens before profits. Today we are witnessing the birth of a very important bill, The National Tobacco Control Bill, second reading of which was taken earlier today by the Senate.

Dear friends, since 1999 when Democracy was established in Nigeria and the rule of law restored, many bills have been passed in the National Assembly, some of which I had my input. Today it is with joy and humility that I have presented to the senate a lead debate on a comprehensive tobacco control Bill that when finally passed and enforced will help save the lives of millions of Nigerians, especially the youths, and safeguard our collective future from a common pandemic threatening the 21st century- the tobacco pandemic.

Some of you may wonder why this bill is so important. I will answer that question by telling you about the dangers that tobacco poses to our country, Africa and the entire human race. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates cigarette smoking currently kills 5.4 million people every year. Over half of that causality will be recorded in developing countries like ours and if we fold our hands and do nothing, this century we are going to lose about 1 billion people to tobacco related diseases.

In Nigeria, you may be aware of the activities of the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) since the company began full scale manufacturing of cigarettes in Ibadan, Oyo state. While this 'investment' might have provided job opportunities for less than 1000 Nigerians, it is also responsible for the deaths of many thousands more. In 2006, Lagos state government discovered through a survey covering 11 hospitals in the state that 2 persons die each day from a tobacco related disease. The volume has since gone up. The 'investment' has also targeted our young people. You may wish to note that Lagos State Government in its characteristic responsible manner has gone to court on this matter.

Over the last years, you might have been aware of such programmes directly geared towards the young and vulnerable. The Wild & Wet, Rothmans groove, St Moritz fashion & Style, Experience IT promotion, EXPERIENCE Freshness all night party etc. That is not all; there have been attempts to reward youths who smoke cigarettes by the tobacco industry. Other events include 'Buy one for the price of two' and sale promotions where smokers win gifts such as flashy handsets, motorcycles, DVD camcorders, plasma TVs and several packs of cigarettes.

Recent statistics on youth smoking in Nigeria also presents a very sad picture. More of our young people are taking up smoking everyday. Not only that, about 100,000 of our young people including school children here in Abuja will pick up one of the over 15 billion cigarettes sold daily worldwide. Once they start they will get hooked, because the tobacco industry which manufactured the cigarettes has put a potent chemical inside it called nicotine which ensures the smoker is hooked on cigarettes.

Of course that is the plan of the tobacco industry. In Europe and the United States, strong tobacco control laws have forced the major tobacco industries to relocate to Africa and Asia. Also, profits are dwindling because the old customers have either died of their habit or totally quit smoking. The young and highly impressionable young people of Africa became the target and one of the ways they have successfully used to achieve this objective apart from the ones I have enumerated above is to sell cigarettes in sticks. By doing this they make cigarettes closer and readily available to our youths, they especially make sure that cigarette packs look attractive and pleasant in order to attract the young people.

Ladies and gentlemen, Tobacco is the only consumer good that kills half of those who use it according to the manufacturer's instructions. Realising these, countries around the world have set the pace to curtail the activities of the tobacco industry through legislations such that we have just taken the second reading today in order to reduce the death and economic burdens it placed on them. It is especially important for Nigeria to put forward laws that would protect our citizens, reduce deaths associated with smoking, save cost on treating people who got sick from tobacco and March on towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and achievement of the Seven Point Agenda of President Yar'Adua administration.

The bill will strengthen the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy as enshrined in our constitution to wit “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purposes of government” (S.14.2b).

This bill is important, not only for us but for the future generations to come. It is a comprehensive bill that covers all aspects of health as regards tobacco consumption. This bill covers such areas as advertising, smoke free public places, sponsorship, youth smoking, packaging, number of cigarettes a pack can contain, display of signs in public buildings, litigation and enforcement.

This Bill, seeks to repeal the Tobacco Smoking (Control) Act No.20 of 1990/CAP. T6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and the domestication of the World Health Organisation initiated Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The FCTC came into force on February 27, 2005 .Nigeria signed the FCTC in June 2004 and ratified the treaty in October 2005 The FCTC is the global benchmark for the manufacturing, sale and distribution of tobacco products. Nigeria as a party to the treaty is obligated to implement all the provisions of the treaty. It currently has 168 signatories and 160 parties; an unprecedented record in the history of global treaties.

When this bill is passed, it will be an offence to sell or market tobacco products to persons under the age of 18. The sale of cigarettes by the sticks is also prohibited. All forms of adverts, sponsorship, testimonials, sales promotion are prohibited. Every cigarette pack is mandated to carry a special pictorial warning that covers half of the packet warning smokers about the dangers of smoking.

Besides, the rights of non smokers are guaranteed. We know the dangers associated with second hand smoke. Smoking does not only affect those who smoke, but also people who stay and inhale the smoke from their cigarettes. That is why there is a provision for smoke free public places so that people can enjoy clean air anytime they are out on their work without having to breathe the contamination from cigarettes. Ghana our next door neighbour would have gone smoke free effective January 1, 2009. Kenya, South Africa, Niger are all implementing smoke free policies
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of this bill is that tobacco manufacturers will no longer be able to sell or put into the stream of commerce either by themselves or their agents any tobacco product within a one thousand metre radius of any place where minors congregate. This is a major achievement because our minors are exposed to cigarettes everywhere they go.

Gentlemen of the press, I will like to seize this opportunity to say thank you to all those who have contributed towards achieving this goal. I want to thank members of the tobacco control community especially for their consistency and steadfastness. I also want to thank you members of the media for all your support and I am counting on you for your support in the future. I also want to call all Nigerians to cooperate with us in enforcing and implementing this important public health laws.

I am optimistic that the future is bright, I am hopeful that with the commitment of the members of the National assembly towards delivering the dividends of democracy to our people , more public oriented bills such as this will continue to emanate from the National Assembly.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for listening and please enjoy the rest of the day.

Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora
Senate Deputy Minority Leader


Sponsor: Senator Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora (Lagos East)

1, It repeals the tobacco (control) Act 1990 CAP. T16 Laws of the Federation
2, Completely domesticates the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)
2, It establishes the National Tobacco Control Committee
3 , The National Tobacco Control Act 2009 will come to force six months from the date of assent
4, Every packet of tobacco for sale in Nigeria must carry the statement “ Sales allowed only in Nigeria”
5, Every tobacco product manufactured in Nigeria for export must bear; Manufactured in Nigeria for Export”
6, Every packet of cigarette must bear:
(I) Name and license number of the manufacturer/wholesaler/importer/exporter;
(ii) Serial number, date, location and country of manufacture;
(iii) Clearly visible “tax” stamp or marking,
7, It prohibits the sale of cigarette to Persons under 18
8,It prohibits the sale of tobacco products through vending machines
9, Prohibits the sale of cigarette in single sticks
10, Every cigarette pack must contain minimum of 20 sticks
11,No mail delivery of cigarette to consumers
12 Stipulates warning labels / health messages to cover at least 50 per cent of the principal display areas
13,The Health Minister can adjust the format of the health warnings/messages to include pictograms
14, It prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisement, sponsorships and promotions, endorsements or testimonials, sales promotions
15, Prohibits smoking in public places including restaurants and bars, public transportation, schools etc
16, Prohibition of the sale of tobacco products 1,000 meter radius places designated as non –smoking
17, Empowers government to use litigation to recoup liabilities related to tobacco consumption




It is established fact, both scientifically and legally, that tobacco is dangerous as it contains over 4,000 potent, toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, associated with over 200 diseases, preventable deaths and a significant drain on world economy, particularly the healthcare sector. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and several organizations are unanimous that tobacco consumption is a scourge; failure to control its spread would have serious and fatal consequences for citizens of the world.

The increasing hostility and regulatory restrictions from western and other more developed nations have caused tobacco companies to flock to developing countries in order to increase their business and profitability. Sadly, developing countries like ours, with notorious drawbacks of illiteracy, corruption, weak institutions and regulatory competencies, but which have teeming populations, are increasingly becoming targets of the exploitative and deliberately deceptive strategies of marketing by these profit- driven companies. Furthermore, Nigeria's health system remains inadequate and unable to cope with the scourge and the impending epidemic. A majority of smokers in Nigeria are illiterate, living in rural areas that hardly have sufficient facilities to treat tobacco related diseases. The major tertiary hospitals do not have the necessary interventions that are so important and needed timely. Consequently there is an urgent need to enact legislation to curb this preventable scourge, with appropriate modalities for holding the industry accountable for the injuries it causes.

WHO promoted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which is a model legislation that many health-conscious countries have signed and ratified, Nigeria is a signatory to the Convention and as such has an obligation to enact the required legislation controlling the distribution and consumption of tobacco products. It is further to our obligations under this Convention that I seek to introduce this legislation, with the range of restrictions and provisions therein.


Most western countries have enacted similar legislation, which has successfully diminished high smoking and exposure rates. Legislation, similar to the one at hand, is also known to have brought about significant tangible benefits for the health systems in those countries. Of the several efforts and initiatives worldwide, the most effective have been when lawmakers rise in unison to make the wide ranging provisions to control the adverse effect of tobacco, as contained in this Bill. The industry has been known only to change its behaviour when it is confronted with serious statutory provisions that regulate and control its operations. Further, some of the greatest success stories in tobacco control both legally and health-wise have been due to legislation, since they have had the singular effect of holding the industry accountable and responsible for the injuries it causes.

Tobacco is the only product that when used as designed by manufacturers will surely kill or harm the user. Legislation is required to compel tobacco manufacturers to take responsibility for their actions, to secure and safeguard our future by curbing the consumption by our youth and children and to ensure that our citizens remain healthy, in a smoke-free environment. In the absence of comprehensive legislation, Nigeria would be unable to either regulate the industry or protect our current and future generations from the hazards of tobacco consumption.

We do not only need to act, but we need to act urgently. Current statistics show that in Nigeria:

i) Smoking and exposure to smoke has gone up to 20% from 2% in the 1980's
ii) The smoking rate amongst young women under 18 has increased by over 16% in the last 10years.
iii) 90% of cocaine, hemp and other drug user begin such habits from smoking cigarettes.
iv) Most armed robbers, rapist and cultists admit to either smoking or using drugs before embarking on their nefarious activities.

The Tobacco industry has long deceived us into believing that smoking is a matter of choice. Most smokers picked the habit as children, from peer pressure or in school, all in a bid to 'belong'. Most countries in the world, inclusive of Nigeria, understand that persons under 18 are incapable of making informed choices, hence the age of voting, criminal responsibility and obtaining drivers license is pegged at 18 and above. From the health standpoint alone, the reality of escalation of tobacco consumption and its adverse effects in our midst is staggering. In Lagos State, reports from 11 of 26 public hospitals where research was conducted show that about 2 people die everyday from tobacco related diseases. The average tobacco related disease can take up to 20years to manifest. If what we are seeing now is alarming and only a result of past consumption, we cannot even begin to imagine what to expect in the future, now that smoking rates have increased dramatically. The time to act is now!

A sober consideration for us as Lawmakers is that it is not just a question of pro-activity when we pass this law; it is a constitutional duty and responsibility. Our Constitution mandates us, under its Chapter 11, The Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, to enact laws to protect all vulnerable groups(including women and children), our communities the society and the environment.

We are grappling with many contending issues of priority at this stage of our development. We certainly need to provide leadership to our people and other parts of this Continent by creating a system where the tobacco industry can be compelled to submit to appropriate regulation and control.

Essentially the proposed Legislation, if supported, will succeed in providing a framework for the:

· Protection of the Nation's public health by enhancing public awareness of the hazards and dangers associated with tobacco use.
· Protection of young persons and others from the inducement to use tobacco and tobacco products and the consequent dependence on them by restricting access to tobacco.
· Protection of the rights and health of non-smokers, endangered through environmental tobacco smoke whilst also protecting the environment.
· Controlling and restricting the sale of tobacco in sticks and in public places.
· Providing effective warnings in graphics and languages spoken in Nigeria, such measures being most beneficial to the non-literate of our population.
· Restricting the promotion of tobacco products, adverts and sponsorship which particularly target minors and promote industry-funded awareness, campaigns and education.
· Affording us with the appropriate legal mechanisms to assist Government and injured persons to seek redress against the tobacco industry for injuries caused as a consequence of tobacco consumption.
· Making the profit-driven tobacco industry responsible and accountable for their activities, as they currently remain oblivious to the adverse effects and concerns that emanate from the consumption of its harmful products.


Our Constitution under Section 14 subsection 2(b) specifically states that
"the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government".
If we passed this bill into law, we would have fulfilled a fundamental objective of government more so as responsive and responsible representatives of our constituents.

I thank you in anticipation of your most cherished support.

Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tobacco: Going, Going, Going?


Written by Dr Olusegun Fakoya
Saturday, 04 October 2008

From available information, it appears as if the Federal Capital Territory remains the only part of Nigeria conscious of the harmful effects of smoking. The recent prohibition of smoking in public places remains a commendable step but actions are still necessary to combat the monster called smoking. The Third World is further impoverished by the harmful effects of smoking on the health of the populace. The undeveloped economies of these nations can also not cope with the surge on the insufficient health facilities occasioned by the myriad of health-related problems induced by smoking. While the recent efforts of the Nigerian government, especially in recent times, remain commendable as regards some appreciation of the menace of smoking, however, all hands must be on deck to counter the resurgent ability of the super-rich tobacco industry. The ability of the tobacco industry to stage a come back was buttressed by the statement credited to the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, that as a reaction to the recent ban on public smoking in the FCT, tobacco companies made unsolicited overtures to his office. There is no doubt that more concerted efforts are needed on the parts of the Federal and State governments to ensure that Nigeria becomes a smoke-free country. This is a position devoid of religious or other parochial overtones. It is simply borne out of the need to create a healthy nation that can aggressively tackle its myriad of socio-economic problems.

Epidemiological and Health Implications of Smoking
A habit, which at one time was considered fashionable and acceptable has been proven after many years of study and linkages with many ailments to be as deadly as the scorpion sting. Smoking is a universal problem, which though may have peculiar geographical approaches in terms of solutions, but yet remain one with universal determination in tackling. To date, no nation has ever admitted benefiting economically from smoking and hence the numerous efforts by nations in tackling this man-made monster. The United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco use as "the single most important preventable risk to human health in developed countries and an important cause of premature death worldwide”. To further reinforce this view, let us consider the following facts about smoking:

- About 93 million sticks of cigarette are produced yearly in the country and every one of those cigarettes is consumed here in Nigeria.

- World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 1.3 billion people in the world are currently smoking and most of them are in developing countries.

- Tobacco kills close to five million people yearly worldwide with over 70 percent occurring in developing countries including Nigeria. It is the cause of death of 17.7 per cent of all deaths in developed countries.

- By 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) expects the worldwide death toll from smoking to reach 10 million.

- Tobacco is responsible for over 25 diseases in man, including hypertension, heart attack, cancer and other conditions such as asthma, emphysema. It is also responsible for some pregnancy-related problems and other conditions such as tuberculosis, blindness, deafness and nutritional and psychological disorders.

- Tobacco kills 50 per cent of lifetime smokers and half of these deaths occur among people in their middle age (35-69years).

The extremely high tar content of the Nigerian tobacco was highlighted by the trio of Awotedu, Higenbottam and Onadeko in a study conducted in 1983 (J Epidemiology Community Health 1983; 37:218-20). It should be emphasised here that the dangers of smoking are directly proportional to the tar content of cigarettes. Tobacco smoke pollution has been classified as a known human carcinogen in the USA. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. Smoking also harms people of all ages. For instance, toxic ingredients in cigarette smoke travel throughout the body, causing damages in several ways. Nicotine reaches the brain within 10 seconds after smoke is inhaled and it has been found in every part of the body, breast milk inclusive.

Smoking has been implicated in the following disease conditions or states:

Tooth Loss
Stomach Ulcers
Ocular Histoplasmosis (Fungal Eye Infection)
Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis (Gum Disease)
Hearing Loss
Duodenal Ulcer
Reduced Sperm Count
Dysmenorrhoea (Painful periods)
Early Menopause
Colon polyps
Reduced Fertility
Buerger’s Disease
Optic Neuropathy (Vision loss)
Premature wrinkling
Crohn’s Disease

This month (October 2008), Dr Julie Pasco of the University Of Australia, Melbourne published the outcome of a research that showed that smoking increases the risk of major depressive disorder by 93% in women who smoke, compared to those who do not smoke. The odds are said to more than double for those who smoke in excess of more than 20 cigarettes a day. Dr Pasco concluded: “It is becoming increasingly clear that smoking is not innocuous to mental health and may in fact aggravate mental illness or contribute to its onset”.

It is common practice for cigarette packets to carry warnings approved by health authorities but none ever lists the diseases caused by smoking. In appreciation of this significant deficiency, Reuters reported on Saturday 27 September, 2008 the efforts of the British authorities to further inform its populace on the dangers of smoking via warnings on packets. This report states as follows: “Gruesome pictures of rotting teeth and throat cancer tumours will appear on all tobacco products in Britain from next month as the government steps up its campaign to encourage the country's 10 million smokers to quit. The images will be printed on the back of cigarette packs to illustrate written health warnings introduced in 2003, the Department of Health said on Saturday. The photos also include a flaccid cigarette to depict male impotence and a comparison of healthy and tar-filled lungs”. The concerns of the British authorities are justified considering that
smoking is Britain's single killer, causing the premature death each year of 87,000 people in England alone.

The introduction of photo warnings was a desperate action by concerned governments over a habit that refused to abate despite numerous interventions. Canada was the first country to put photo warnings on cigarettes in 2001. In Europe, Belgium and Romania followed suit but Britain will be the first in the European Union. Britain intends to put photo warnings not only on cigarette packs, but also hand-rolling tobaccos and cigars. Britain is taking this extra step despite the ban on smoking in enclosed places imposed in July 2007.

Another positive action to combat the menace of smoking was the recent effort by the leaders of one of the most populous nations on earth. On the 2nd of October 2008, India became the latest country to take measured actions at combating smoking. A ban on public smoking came into effect nation-wide. The law aimed at fighting tobacco use which has been responsible for a fifth of all deaths in the world’s third-largest consumer of tobacco. India has nearly 240 million of tobacco users (more than the entire population of Nigeria). A fine of £2.00 was also imposed on those caught breaking the fan. A token penalty may be, but significant nevertheless.

The Nigerian Situation

In spite of the worldwide concerted efforts by concerned governments, Nigeria remains amongst nations that have expressed concerns but done precious little to tackle the blooming epidemic of smoking. As a nation, our indulgent attitude coupled with prevalent illiteracy has not really helped the situation. The smoking culture in Nigeria seems to be waxing stronger instead of waning. Our men still smoke blissfully, totally ignorant of the potential dangers. Another significant fact is the now prevalent attitude of our female folks to smoking. Without sounding chauvinistic, gone were the days when no decent woman dares smokes in the streets of Nigeria. These days, this is now a common place thing. Not on this, the disservice inherent in the attitude of the female actresses in our home made videos to smoke on the screen is frighteningly appalling. This is an antisocial act that calls for urgent curbing. This unwanted attitude gives erroneous glamorous air to the habit of smoking. It negates the efforts of the governments and concerned peoples of Nigeria to nip smoking in the bud.

Sam Olukoya’s report in one of the national dailies in January this year highlighted the enormity of the battle to contain smoking faced by the Nigerian society. It is a chilling reminder of the little impact of government’s efforts so far. He told the story of two Nigerian youths and their attitude to smoking vis-à-vis the warnings on cigarette packets relating the danger of this dreaded habit: “Taju Olaide (17) says that he was unaware of the warning because he is uneducated and therefore cannot read what is printed on the cigarette packs he buys. “I don't care about what they write on the cigarette packs because I cannot read. What is important to me is the cigarette inside the pack." Similarly, another

youngster, Uche Okeke, says that even though he has read the warning, he is not bothered by it. "I don't believe smoking cigarettes makes me liable to die young. Many old people who smoke are alive and well." These statements smacks of defiance and ignorance and no doubt, reflects the non-impact of the much orchestrated warnings on tobacco cigarettes in the country. Positions like this have forced the government to admit that the warning on cigarette packets have achieved nothing in fighting the tobacco surge.

The youth market gives Nigeria the unenviable tag of a veritable tobacco market in Africa. Statistics show that youths form over 40% of the Nigerian population and 18% of the youths smoke. This figure is actually on an upward spiral. Unless drastic steps are taken. Students in the Universities and Secondary schools are addicted to smoking while the primary schools are gradually being infiltrated. This development is of significant social concern and also portends dire economic consequences.

A strong determinant of the success of tobacco control in Africa is the need to have baseline information on tobacco on the continent. Anne-Maria Schryer-Roy, a Consultant with the African Tobacco Situational Analysis (ATSA) recently stated that little or no information exists on the continent to track progress on tobacco control activities in many sub-Saharan countries. This has led to dearth of sound information and evidence to assist policy makers in their efforts to effectively address country-level needs and implement a targeted tobacco control program. The two-year ATSA initiative is a partnership between IDRC (the International Development Research Centre) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Equally, Nigeria lacks baseline information on tobacco smoking pattern and attributes consequently making formulation and implementation of a national policy on tobacco difficult. To redress this situation, the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) and the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) are to conduct a Nigerian Tobacco Situational Analysis (NTSA). The Executive Director of NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye, said the situational analysis project was to Identify opportunities (short and long-term) to avert a tobacco epidemic in Nigeria, provide opportunities for support, provide information to support national and regional efforts for evidence-informed tobacco control and explore opportunities for strengthening collaboration among actors involved in tobacco control in Nigeria. The NTSA would also address presence of existing research, health policies and systems, infrastructure for tobacco control, the stakeholders for the tobacco control, government positions and the existence of tobacco control legislation amongst other issues. This NTSA has been endorsed by various stakeholders in the struggle for tobacco control as a step in the right direction.

It is pertinent to state that tobacco companies carry on their business in Nigeria as if their mere presence in the country is a privilege to the citizens. It is however, the view of Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, programme manager of ERA (Environmental Rights Action), that the product harms the national economy as costs far outweigh whatever benefits accrue to tobacco transnationals who are the beneficiaries of the tobacco trade. According to him, tobacco destroys national manpower, destroys the environment and also ruins social relationships. Although Nigeria has the Tobacco Smoking (Control) Act, Decree 20 of 1990, the Code of Advertising Practice (APCON), 1993 and APCON Resolution at its 89th meeting held on July 11, 2001, all these have not proved to be effective control mechanisms for tobacco control in Nigeria. A laudable development is the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) which was signed by Nigeria in June 2004 and ratified in October 2005.

The Nigerian Tobacco Market

British American Tobacco Nigeria (BAT) merged with the Nigerian Tobacco Company (NTC) in November 2000 to form the single largest tobacco company in Nigeria; it held a massive share of retail volume sales of cigarettes in 2005. The rest of the market is currently fragmented. Its dominance can be largely attributed to the popularity of its brands, which enjoy a long history in Nigeria, and its new factory, which has ensured a steady supply of its products to the market. Also, the company has embarked upon vigorous and creative marketing campaigns that have strengthened brand awareness and improved sales.

The Nigerian government welcomed tobacco investment and showed an active support for tobacco multinationals. BAT was granted a concessionary import duty that lasted until the end of 2003. Upon completion of the ultra-modern cigarette plant built by BAT in 2003, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo described the US$150 million investment in Nigeria as a significant and trail-blazing initiative, which other investors should emulate. Perhaps to heed this call, in 2005, the Gallaher Group Plc and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) were registered to operate in Nigeria.

A significant portion of British American Tobacco is owned by the Swiss luxury group, Richemont, the family business empire of the South African billionaire Anton Rupert, who died in 2006.

The Enemy of the Nigerian nation

Mr. Lanre Oginni, Executive director, All-Nigerian Consumer Movement, stated that the tobacco industry has violated practically every article of the eight consumer rights, which were incorporated in the 1985 United Nations Guidelines for consumer protection and which were amended in 1999 to include sustainable consumption. He maintained that the tobacco business is a huge consumer fraud. He stated that those employed in tobacco factories or selling tobacco on the streets often earn starvation wages. Far from being rich from their vocation, many of those working in tobacco-related environment are facing multi-generational poverty compounded by illiteracy and poor health.
To illustrate the overtly conducive atmosphere for tobacco market in Nigeria which remains out of tune with global reality, the British American Tobacco (BAT) recently demanded tax waivers from the federal government. Additionally, BAT continues to explore areas not covered by the APCON directive or existing laws to advertise its products. Those areas include delivery vans, point of sale, traffic signs and umbrellas. It has continued to associate tobacco with arts, music, fashion, etc. It has also colour-coded all its brands in Nigeria that the colours speak for the products.
BAT has continued to demonstrate its willingness to exploit further loopholes (in its battle for survival) to continue to market its deadly products to identified target customers, especially the youths and the poor, further creating a vicious cycle of preventable deaths, diseases and poverty. It has continued to use its corporate social responsibility projects to hypnotise the public, creating confusion about the needs for tighter tobacco control.
Nigeria is in a race against a heartless and powerful tobacco conglomerate which admitted at the FCTC hearing in 2000 that: “‘we agree that smoking is addictive and causes diseases in smokers, but we do not have legal responsibility for those that claim they have been injured. We should not be responsible for their choices”. The onus thus lies on the federal government of Nigeria to be proactive in instituting measures aimed at protecting the populace.
Suggestions for Control
The situation calls for concerted and measured actions on the part of all Nigerians. The need for continued and sustained public health education on the dangers of smoking cannot be over-emphasised, especially with the prevalent ignorance exhibited by the critical segment of the Nigerian population. Other practical measures could include:
- Complete ban of advertisement, including points of sale.
- High taxes on cigarettes to discourage more people going into the venture.
- Protection of non-smokers from the often underestimated harmful effects of second-hand smoking.
- Expansion of smoke-free public places.
- Assistance to tobacco farmers to discourage the planting of tobacco.
- Assistance to pro-tobacco victims to ameliorate the resultant harmful effects of smoking.
- Provision of adequate support to states instituting litigations for damages.
- The domestication of the FCTC and passage of the draft National Tobacco Control Bill by the National Assembly. Effective enforcement of the said bill when passed into law is also imperative.

- Introduction of bold warnings that would up take no less than 30% of the space on cigarette wrappings. In particular, the introduction of photographic warnings showing cancerous growths caused by cigarettes as obtained in countries like Thailand, Brazil, Canada and lately Britain, will go a long way in making an informed decision on the part of (potential) smokers.

It is important to state that litigation remains the cornerstone of efforts to checkmate the tobacco industry excesses but this could only be achieved once necessary legislation framework is in place

It is also pertinent to state here that in 1998, 46 American states instituted a law suit against tobacco companies to recoup healthcare spending on tobacco-related illnesses. In a settlement, four tobacco companies agreed to pay $206-billion to the 46 states over 25 years and to cease advertising targeting youth. Since then, United States juries have awarded millions of dollars in damages against tobacco companies in compensation to Americans affected by smoking through death and disease. Since then, suits have followed in other countries, Nigeria being one.

The lawsuit filed by the Nigerian government was in conjunction with the civil society group Environmental Rights Action, the Nigerian affiliate of the environmental group Friends of the Earth. The suit, filed at a federal court in the capital, Abuja, is against big tobacco companies International Tobacco, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, its Nigerian subsidiary British American Tobacco ( Nigeria) and the lobby group the Tobacco Institute. The suit seeks relief to regulate tobacco smoking, given the high number of under-aged children in what is Africa's most populous country. The government is also claiming $44-billion in compensation from the tobacco companies.

For Nigeria, the implication of unrestricted smoking environment is ominous as tobacco-related ailments take about 20 years to manifest. Thus the government should anticipate a huge epidemic of tobacco-related diseases in the coming years. The resultant strain on public healthcare would be enormous as the majority of these smokers are poor people who have no means to access treatment themselves. They will depend on the government to bear the cost. With the current pathetic state of our healthcare system, the impending chaos is best imagined. Perhaps, it is thus appropriate to suggest that at this juncture, an outright ban on smoking would be most relevant. This is probably the only effective way of forestalling the inevitable doom associated with our current kid-glove approach to the unimaginable disaster that smoking is.

This treatise is essentially a contribution in support of the numerous efforts by individuals and non-governmental organisations at achieving a smoke-free environment in Nigeria. It is principally directed at the general public, researchers and healthcare providers in Nigeria. Its goal is to touch on the health and socio-economic implications of smoking in Nigeria and efforts geared at achieving a smoke-free environment. I fully accept any shortcoming in this write-up.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ERA lauds Senate over anti-tobacco bill

Press Release
February 12, 2009

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the Senate for giving overwhelming support to the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009, which scaled the second reading last Wednesday, saying the bill, when passed into law, will have "far-reaching" implications on the well-being of Nigerians.

ERA/FoEN, in a reaction to the Senate mandate to its Committee on Health to process a bill to control the manufacture, sale and advertising of tobacco products, among others, said the decision marks a "turning point" in the torturous campaign to put a rein on tobacco-related deaths in the country.

The bill makes it an offence to sell or market tobacco products to persons under the age of 18 and imposes a fine not exceeding N50,000 or imprisonment of a term not exceeding six months or both on violators. It also prohibits sale of cigarettes by the sticks, all forms of advertisements, sponsorships, testimonials and promotion.

Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Olorunnimbe Adeleke Mamora who sponsored the bill noted strongly that while the much-hyped British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) operations have provided jobs for less than 1,000 Nigerians, it is responsible for the death and ill-health of several thousands .

"This is a positive rhythm coming from the Senate because the overwhelming support the bill received is a clear indication that the Distinguished Members of the Senate have acted in tandem with the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians that appropriate legislation are urgently needed to curtail the activities the tobacco industry and rescue millions of Nigerians from the pangs of tobacco addiction," said ERA/FoEN Programme Manager Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi.

Oluwafemi said that the Senate opted for a fast-track of the passage of the bill shows they understand the magnitude of the tobacco menace on the lives of Nigerians and particularly the under-aged that are conscripted into smoking through dubious marketing tactics.

"This laudable step by the Senate strengthens our belief that our campaign to ensure that government domesticates provisions of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which Nigeria signed and ratified alongside over 160 countries will become a reality as soon as possible.

"We urge Members of the Senate not to allow themselves be to distracted by tobacco industry lobbyists and look forward to a complete ban on sale of cigarettes in sticks and the introduction of warning labels that will cover 50 per cent of cigarette pack and ultimately, high taxes on tobacco products, Oluwafemi noted.

Philip Jakpor
Media Officer

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Senate Debates Bill On Tobacco Control, Sale

by Hanson Okoh
February 13, 2009

Senators on Wednesday considered legislation which seeks to control the manufacture, sale, advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco or tobacco products in Nigeria.
The bill on the subject has passed through Second Reading.
It was entitled, "National Tobacco Control Bill, 2009".
Deputy Minority Leader, Olorunnimbe Adeleke Mamora (AC, Lagos East), is the sponsor of the bill.
If passed into law, it would become an offence to sell or market tobacco products to persons under 18 years with a fine of N50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both for whoever flouts the law.
The bill also proposes to prohibit the sale of cigarettes by the stick as well as ban all forms of adverts, sponsorship, testimonials, and sale promotion connected with tobacco.
In the bill, cigarette manufacturers may be compelled to carry a special pictorial warning that covers half of the packet, informing smokers on the dangers of smoking.
Leading debate on the bill on Wednesday, Mamora said tobacco related diseases were on the increase hence the need to shield Nigerians from its harmful effects.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates cigarette smoking currently kills 5.4 million people every year.
"Over half of that casualty will be recorded in developing countries like ours and if we fold our hands and do nothing, this century we are going to lose about one billion to tobacco related diseases.
"In 2006, the Lagos State Government discovered through a survey covering 11 hospitals in the state that two persons die each day from tobacco related disease," Mamora said.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Introducing: Nigeria National Tobacco Control Bill 2009

The Nigeria tobacco control bill is a comprehensive law when passed to regulate the manufacturing, advertising distribution and consumption of tobacco products in Nigeria.
It is a bill that s aimed at domesticating the Framework Convection on Tobacco Control (FCTC) because Nigeria is a party to that international convention. The keys highlights of the bill are prohibition of smoking in public places; to include restaurant and bar, public transportation, schools, hospitals e.t.c. A ban on all forms of direct and indirect advertising, prohibition of sales of cigarette 1000-meter radius of areas designated as non-smoking, mass awareness about the danger of smoking as well as the formation of committee that will guide government on the issue of tobacco control in the country.