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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Group urges Senate to pass anti-tobacco bill

A Non-Governmental Organisation, Journalists Action on Tobacco and Health (JATH) has urged the Senate to speed up the passage of the 2009 National Tobacco Control Bill to allow for commencement of quick implementation of the WHO’s Framework convention on Tobacco Control(FCTC) which Nigeria ratified in 2005.

In a statement signed by the group’s Programme Manager, Mr. Yinka Olugbade, the group said the passage of the bill would help reduce tobacco-related deaths.

The group also commended Senator Olorunimbe Mamora for sponsoring the bill and working to ensure that it has passed the second reading.

“The Senate will be doing this nation a lot of good by passing this bill on time because the burden of cancer in Nigeria is appreciable and tobacco contributes a lot to this. According to the World Health Organisation, there are an estimated 100,000 new cancer cases in the country each year although observers believe the figure could become as high as 500,000 new cases annually by 2010.

“It is feared that by 2020, cancer incidence for Nigerian males and females may rise to 90.7/100,000 and 100.9/100,000 respectively. It is also anticipated that by 2020, death rates from cancer in Nigerian males and females may reach 72.7/100,000 and 76/100,000 respectively. But this only represents a tip of the iceberg if projections by the World Health Organization (WHO) are anything to go by.

“ In 2005 cancer killed eighty nine thousand people in Nigeria with fifty four thousand of this figure below the age of seventy. Essentially, the most common cancers documented in Nigeria to date are cancers of the uterus and breast for women and liver and prostate cancers for men. But many of these deaths can be avoided. Over 40% of all cancers can be prevented. Others can be detected early, treated and cured.

“With the passage of this bill, which will properly regulate tobacco use, cancer and other tobacco-related diseases are bound to be on the rebound,” the group noted.

Noting that a part of the bill contains incorporation of Pictorial warnings on the pack of cigarettes,JATH said,"There is no doubt that the sponsor of the Bill and the Nigerian Senate meant well for the welfare of its citizens.

"Incorporation of Pictorial Warning on tobacco product packets is important as majority of the tobacco users in this country will be able to have informed choice. World Health Organization (WHO), particularly approves of tobacco health warnings that contain both pictures and words because they are the most effective at convincing people to quit.