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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nigerians smoke 93 million sticks of cigarettes yearly

-Yekeen Nurudeen

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also said that eight million people die yearly of tobacco-related diseases worldwide.

While receiving an award as the WHO Man of the Year 2009 on tobacco control, Modibbo said he was surprised when the British American Tobacco (BAT) Company told him that it produces 93 million cigarettes, which Nigerians consume yearly.

“I was so happy when I visited BAT on invitation in Ibadan and they said they produce 93 million sticks of cigarettes yearly. But when I asked them which country they export them to, they said it is consumed in Nigeria,” the former minister stated.

Presenting the award on behalf of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, the son of Prof. Wole Soyinka, said globally about eight million poeple die of tobacco-related diseases.

Soyinka noted that the reason the company was allowed to establish in the country had been defeated, as the organisation had not been able to employ up to 900 people so far, adding that farmers were finding it difficult to pay for the machines provided to them by the tobacco firm.He lamented that the tobacco company was driven away from its home country only to relocate to tNigeria to kill its youths.

According to him, WHO takes the issue of tobacco seriously as the organisation is doing all it can to reduce the supply and demand of the product. He, however, lamented that the company is lobbying the National Assembly to kill the bill banning smoking in the country.