Search This Blog

Monday, June 29, 2009

FG Bans Fresh Investment in Tobacco

The Federal Government may have banned fresh investments in the tobacco and allied industry. Smoking and the pervasive use of tobacco products is a risk factor for several diseases and has been increasing in many developing countries. In 2000, 4·83 million of premature deaths in the world were attributable to smoking with 2·41 million occuring in developing countries and 2·43 million in industrialised countries.

Executive Secretary and CEO of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Mustafa Bello, made this disclosure at the just concluded 2nd Nigeria-Japan Business and Investment Forum, which took place in the cities of Osaka and Tokyo. Bello, had in response to an inquiry from a prospective Japanese investor, said that the Federal Government in line with global efforts at stemming the use of tobacco products and isolating manufacturers of the product may not be well disposed to fresh investments in that sector.
He said that it is only the Federal Executive Council (FEC) that can review this policy and make exceptions if a case is brought to its attention.

"Right now, the Nigerian government working in line with global efforts at discouraging the use of cigarettes and tobacco related products, would not be willing to entertain any fresh investments in the tobacco industry sub-sector," he said.The NIPC Executive Secretary urged the investor and others engaged in doing business in this sector to consider investments in other sectors of the Nigerian economy.

He said that Nigeria is a preferred investment destination because of the current administration's commitment to the rule of law, empowerment of the private sector, commitment to creating enabling business environment and its low external debt estimated as at February this year to be $3.5 billion.


Justice A.O Boade of the Oyo State High Court has thrown out an application brought before it by Phillip Morris International in the ongoing multi million dollar tobacco suit instituted against five tobacco companies by Oyo State government in 2007, saying the application does not have any merit.

MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2009.
Page 16.


The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has praised the United States government for passing a new tobacco control bill into law as it called on the National Assembly to expedite action on the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009, currently before the Senate Committee on Health .

President Barrack Obama has signed into law the new bill which empowers the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to exercise a large degree or regulation and control over manufacture, processing and sale of tobacco products in the US. The law empowers the FDA to limit nicotine levels, limit the use of flavours, restrict advertising in publications targeting young people, and banning outdoor tobacco advertising within 300metres radius of schools, among others.

It also requires tobacco companies to get FDA approval for new products and banned terms such as "light" or "mild" in tobacco packaging which imply a smaller risk to health, and introduce graphic new health warnings of packets.

ERA/FoEN, in a press statement in Lagos, said that with the Nigerian government no longer have any excuse not to immediately begin the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which it ratified in October 2005.

Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the National Assembly should take a cue from last week’s signing into law of a major tobacco bill by President Barrack Obama and expedite works on the national Tobacco Control Bill and the lives of millions of Nigerians especially young children.

Oluwafemi said: “ It has become imperative for Nigeria to follow the good example of progressive countries all over the world as just demonstrated by United States President Barrack Obama in passing a strong tobacco control law that would protect Nigerians both smoker and non smokers alike.

“Governments across the world are taking effective measures to protect the health of citizens from corporations reckless desire for profits. Nigeria must act now,” he added.

The Nigeria Tobacco Control Bill sponsored by Senator Olorunnibe Mammora has passed the second reading in the senate. While referring the bill to the Senate committee on Health, Senate President, David Mark had admonished members to resist lobbying from tobacco industry. He said the Senate owe it a duty to the public health of Nigerians to pass the bill in two weeks .The bill when passed will help save lives of millions of Nigerians who may die from a tobacco related disease.

The bill seeks to ban tobacco advertising, selling cigarettes in single sticks, selling cigarettes within 1,000 meters radius of any school or playground, prohibition of smoking in public places and graphic warnings on cigarettes packs among others.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Court to rule on BAT objection July 3

JUSTICE Bukola Adebiyi of the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, has fixed July 3, 2009 to rule on preliminary objections filed by British America Tobacco (Investment) Limited and Philip Morris International on whether they could be sued by the Lagos State Government and Environmental Right Action (ERA).

large view

Thursday, June 18, 2009

WNTD 2009 - Photos To The Rescue


Environmental Right Action

marks World No Tobacco Day with gory photograpgs that will convince die-hard smokers that the habit is an unneccessary invitation to death.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Kano accuses tobacco firms of delay tactics over suit

- Adamu Abuh

KANO State Government yesterday accused a consortium of tobacco firms of applying delay tactics to avoid punishment over the harm their products inflict on the citizenry.

The state government had taken a cue from Lagos State by initiating a N1.6 trillion compensation suit against British-American Tobacco (BAT) Nigeria Limited, International Tobacco Limited and four others for health hazards resulting from cigarette smoking in the most populous northern state.

Kano State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Aliyu Umar, had in the suit named other defendants to include British-American Tobacco Plc, British-American Tobacco (Investment) Limited, Phillip Morris International and Tobacco Institute.

When the matter came up yesterday before a Kano High Court Judge, Wada Rano, an attorney to the state government, Mr. Babatunde Iruekera, accused the tobacco firms of applying various technicalities to stall proceedings on the matter.

Iruekera specifically opposed an oral application seeking the replacement of Phillip Morris International with Phillip Morris International Management as the fifth defendant in the suit.

Irukera wondered why counsel to the tobacco firms who were supposed to address pending issues on the suit chose to come up with a new strategy of causing delay in hearing the case.

"I have said that you cannot abuse the legal process. You also cannot exploit the legal process. You cannot hijack court process for the purpose of gaining undue advantage over an adversary. The court is here to do substantial justice and there must be a level-playing field for all parties.

"Each time the plaintiffs respond, what they do is to withdraw back to the ground zero and initiate another process," Iruekera argued while urging the Judge to check the antics of the tobacco firms' counsel.

Lead counsel to the tobacco firms, E.O. Sofunde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), argued that the move to substitute the fifth defendant is in line with the wishes of his client.

Citing Njemanje vs Shell BP Port Harcourt, 1966, Nigerian Law Report, he asserted that the initiative is anti-thetical to the provision of the law.

Justice Rano thereby adjourned the matter to July 23 for ruling and continuation of proceedings.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Health minister declares war on tobacco


Following frightening statistics which indicateas that Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of deaths in the world which puts more than five million people on the death row every year, surpassing HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined, the Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Osotimehin, has declared war on tobacco.
Further to this, he has called for strong vigilance against tobacco companies, who he said portends more danger to people than any other killer item.
The minister gave the indication in Abuja during the celebration of the 2009 World no Tobacco Day. He called upon persons who smoke, snuff, chew tobacco, or uses it in any other manner to use the World No Tobacco Day to reflect on their actions and desist from doing so considering the health risks associated with tobacco use and the disease and preventable death it causes.
Osotimehin lamented the unscrupulous ploy of the tobacco industries who are continuously guided by profit motive to put the lives of people on danger. “Tobacco companies spend tens of millions of dollars every year turning new users into addicts and keeping current users from quitting” said The Minister. Adding that, through advertising and promotional campaigns, including the use of carefully crafted package designs, the tobacco industry continue to diver attention from the deadly effects of its products.
He emphasized that tobacco is the only legal consumer product that kills one third to one half of those who use it as intended by its manufacturers, with its victims dying on average 15 years prematurely. Professor Osotimehin estimated that half the people that smoke today (about 650 million people) will eventually die of tobacco related diseases with 40% from Cancer, 35% from heart disease and stroke, 25% from lung diseases.
Revealing further that “every cigarette smoked takes 7 minutes off a smokers’ life and some one die from tobacco related ailment every 8 seconds”.Osotimehin called on other states of the federation to adopt the FCT Administration’s ban on tobacco smoking in public places in the FCT.The minister used this years’ World no Tobacco Day entitled “Tobacco Health Warning” to announce the ministry’s introduction of Tobacco free club in secondary schools, integration of harmful effects of tobacco into PHC services, and cessation programmes in all tertiary health institutions and PHC catchments sites in Nigeria.

Monday, June 15, 2009

"My dad is the reason I can never smoke or marry somebody who smokes" - Uche Jombo

" My dad died at 57 but he smoked actively for 35 yearsMy father’s death is something I don’t want to talk about (sobbing). My dad is the reason I can never smoke or marry somebody who smokes. I don’t want to talk about my dad (crying). My dad didn’t die by accident. He died of bronchitis. That is what you get when you smoke for too long. He lungs were infected. In this industry, most people feel they have to smoke to be hip.I was shocked when someone called me to say they wrote that I smoke. I had a good laugh. I could do any other thing but smoking is something I will never do because it killed my dad. Those close to me that smoke don’t feel comfortable doing it around me. Smoking is not something people can give up for you. My dad was still smoking while undergoing treatment because it was an addiction. My dad died at 57 but he smoked actively for 35 years. The man smoked a major part of his life. I always argued with him not to smoke. If you presented your reasons against smoking, he would tell you he had been smoking before you were born."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ex-FCT minister Modibo wins WHO Award

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Dr. Aliyu Mddibo, with a Special Director-General Award for... his contributions to tobacco control in Africa.

The prestigious WHO yearly award is given to eminent personalities, who have made a mark in tobacco control, during the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) celebrations.
The award is the first of such to be won by any former Nigerian Government official.
The award, which was announced on the WHO website, also listed the former minister among the six recipients in Africa.
During his time as the FCT minister, Moddibo was instrumental to tobacco control measures aimed at reducing the smoking prevalence in the federal capital city, especially among the youth.
One of his major achievements is declaring the FCT smoke-free on June 1, 2008.
Through that, it became an offence to smoke in designated public places, such as playground, restaurant, schools and other public buildings.
Moddibo, a former smoker, has also given presentations at various tobacco control meetings and seminars in Abuja and called for increased taxation on cigarettes as a way of reducing access to the youth.

A non-governmental organisation, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) in April was among the four global recipients of the prestigious Bloomberg award.
The award was given during a presentation at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Mumbai India.

It was in recognition of ERA’s contribution in monitoring the activities of the tobacco industry and reporting on such.

Nigeria is one of the few West African countries that have made great strides in public health and tobacco control.

THISDAY BRIEF: scan copy.

Monday, June 1, 2009

ERA commemorates World No Tobacco Day 2009

Environmental Right Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FOEI) commemorates the WNTD 2009 with the theme "Tobacco Health Warnings". This is as appear on packs of cigarettes and believed to be the strongest defences against the global epidemic of tobacco.

According to Akinbode Oluwafemi, Programme Manager, ERA/FOEI, "the WNTD 2009 focuses on the importance of using graphic images on cigarette packaging to aggressively discourage smoking. Nigeria is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and therefore cannot remain indifference while other signatory countries are adopting pictorial warnings to save lives. Picture-based health warnings on tobacco packages have been found to work in countries like Canada, Brazil, Singapore and Thailand. The World Health Organisation particularly approves of tobacco health warnings that contain both pictures and words because they are the most effective at convincing people to quit. This according to him contrast with the glamorous cigarette packaging on display in Nigeria.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control obligates its more than 160 countries parties to require "health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use" on packs of tobacco and their outside packaging and recommends that the warnings contain pictures. On World No Tobacco Day 2009, and throughout the following year, WHO through its Tobacco Free Initiative department represented by various anti-tobacco NGOs in 160 countries will encourage their governments to adopt tobacco health warnings that meet all the criteria for maximal effectiveness, including that they cover more than half of the pack, appear on both the front and back of the pack and contain pictures.

Adeola Akinremi, African Regional Coordinator, Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) speaking on the occassion insists that, "Nigeria must act now as a mark of respect for International Agreement contained under Article 11 of the FCTC, in which parties agree to require all packages of tobacco products to carry Pictorial health warnings describing the harmful effects of tobacco use, or other appropriate messages. This information "should be 50percent or more of the principal display areas but shall be no less than 30percent of the display. He explains "principal display areas" as the front and the back of most cigarette packs. “We are aware the Nigeria Senate is under pressure from British American Tobacco (BAT) and other tobacco companies over the current Tobacco control Bill before its health committee, but we urge the Senate to keep to its promise to legislate to protect its citizens. ” He added.

Campaign materials for World No Tobacco Day 2009, including posters, flyers, stickers, mouse pads, fact sheets, graphs, and a 24-page brochure, are available for free download from the World Health Organization