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Monday, June 29, 2009


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.