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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

WHO On Passive Smoking


The warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that passive smoking constitutes a global threat, is revealing and must be checked.
The UN agency had in its second major report on the "tobacco epidemic" released last week, said second-hand or passive smoking killed nearly 600,000 people each year. WHO, which also warned that tobacco is still the leading preventable cause of death, killing five million people every year, said more and more people were likely to suffer from the harmful effects of passive smoking.
According to the agency, only 5 per cent of people in the world are protected from second-hand smoke in public areas. Insisting that unless more stringent measures were taken to minimize smoking's impact, WHO said that of the world's 100 most populous cities, just over a fifth, or 22 are smoke free.
Last year, WHO unveiled six strategies that countries could implement to protect their people from the harm of cigarettes. These include smoking bans, higher tobacco taxes and bans on tobacco advertising. The 2005 WHO Framework on Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) made it clear that banning of smoking in public places is essential to not only protect nonsmokers, but to make it easier for those who want to quit to stay smoke-free.
WHO, which lamented that just a mere 17 nations had passed comprehensive smoke- free laws, raised the alarm that the annual death toll from tobacco related diseases could rise to eight million by 2030.
It is sad that despite the well documented effects of smoking on humans, countries have more or less, continued to pay lip-service to fighting what from all indications, constitutes one of the major health challenges of the 21st century. No less a body than the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said that 200,000 workers die every year due to exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke at work. WHO estimates that around 700 million children, or almost half of the world's children, breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke which is generally carcigenous.
Given the insalubrious effects of tobacco smoking, governments the world over must rise to the challenge of not only protecting passive smokers, but ensuring that smokers alike are regularly reminded of the risks they face. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Action is, therefore, needed by governments to protect their people from the dangers posed by this type of smoking.
Besides, the fact that more than 94 per cent of people remain unprotected by smoke-free laws three years after international tobacco control measures introduced the requirement, shows that much work needs to be done. Governments must implement the 2005 WHO Framework which 170 nations have signed. As it is said, passive smoking kills people and being passive about it will also kill.
For Nigeria, which is a signatory to the WHO FCTC, the challenge posed by passive smoking is by no means less daunting. Although there are no available data on passive smoking, a report by an Expert Committee on Non-communicable diseases in 1988 certified that 4.5 million Nigerians were smokers. The committee set up by the federal health authorities, also said Nigerians smoked close to seven million sticks of cigarettes daily, which according to then Health Minister, Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti, added up to 49 million sticks a week, or 196 million sticks a month.
It is pertinent to add that it was during Olikoye's tenure as Health Minister under the Ibrahim Babangida regime, that a law against smoking in public places was enacted. Unfortunately, the law all but exists in name as a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had it that over 60 per cent of Nigerian undergraduates smoked. Given the very lax nature of the law on smoking and the general lack of awareness about passive smoking in the country and its consequences, it is not unlikely that the general population are at risk.
While it must be stated that Nigerians are also exposed to other equally deleterious forms of fumes such as acid rain and fumes from automobiles, no effort should be spared to save lives that are exposed to this danger. Indeed, every single life is important and as much as possible, life should be safeguarded.
There is no gainsaying that smoking places a huge burden on health care provisions all around the world. Governments should, therefore, embark on aggressive public enlightenment campaigns to sensitise Nigerians on the effects of passive smoking, and indeed, smoking in general. No effort should be spared to ensure that Nigerians stay healthy.

State government takes tobacco companies to court

-Odunayo Abiodun

A joint suit filed by the Lagos State Government and the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FOEN) against five tobacco companies was brought before a Lagos High Court on Monday.
The claimants jointly instituted the action against the tobacco companies - British American Tobacco (Nigeria) Limited, International Tobacco Limited, British American Tobacco Plc and British American Tobacco Investment Limited - on the ground that tobacco smoking has severe health implications including but not limited to cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary complications, noting that the defendants have recently admitted these facts.
At the resumed hearing of the suit before Bukola Adebiyi, the counsel to the claimants, O. Akinosun moved his application asking for extension of time to file his reply to the request for stay of proceeding in the matter by the defendants.
The defendants did not oppose the application; but they noted that the reason given for the delay was not contained in the affidavit attached to the application.
Mr. Adebiyi, however granted that application and she further adjourned the hearing in the matter until February 9, 2010.
The claimants had alleged that, in spite of the obvious knowledge of the adverse effect of their product, the defendants have fraudulently targeted young and underage people in their advertising and marketing.
They claimed that, through the use of market surveys and sophisticated advertising, the tobacco companies have utilised such means as music, cinema and fashion, to attract young and underage persons to smoking.
They submitted further that the mandatory health warnings inscribed on their packs are ineffective as the defendants promote a retail strategy of sale by the stick whereas the individual sticks that most consumers purchase have no such warning.
The claimants' causes of action are based on negligence, public nuisance, restitution, strict liability, and conspiracy to commit actionable wrongs, among others. It was contended that the overall effect of the defendants' course of conduct is that the state government is called upon to expend its resources in treating tobacco related ailments caused by the use of defendants' products, maintaining that the state government spends at least N316, 000 per month on each of these ailments.
Consequently, the claimants wants an order of mandatory injunction compelling the defendants, their successors-in-title, privies and or agents to cease the marketing, promotion, distribution and sale of tobacco-related products to minors or under aged persons.
An order of mandatory injunction restraining the defendants from representing or portraying to minors or persons under the age of eighteen, any alluring and or misleading image regarding tobacco related products whether by direct depictions, pictorials, advertorials, images, words, messages, sponsorships, branding and or through overt or covert and or subliminal means.
Furthermore, the claimants asked for an order of mandatory injunction restraining the defendants from marketing, distributing, selling, or putting into the stream of commerce either by themselves or through their distributors, agents, resellers, trade partners, marketers, and or any other person, any tobacco related products of whatever make or brand within a one thousand (1000) metre radius of any schools, hospitals, cinemas, playhouses or locations, children's shopping areas, childcare facilities or such other public places in Lagos State, which are predominantly a location for minors and young persons under eighteen (18) years old to "hang out", play, assemble, congregate for any purpose whatsoever including but not limited to educational, recreational, social, religious, sports or any other purposes.
In addition, they urged the court to grant an order of mandatory injunction compelling the tobacco companies to fund a tobacco control programme to be administered and controlled by an independent third party who is to be appointed by the Lagos State government, targeted at minors and young persons under eighteen (18) years old.
They also want a declaration of the court that the tobacco related products as manufactured, marketed, promoted, distributed and sold by the defendants are addictive and a declaration of the court that the tobacco related products as manufactured, marketed, promoted, distributed and sold by the defendants are hazardous and injurious to the public health.

Childhood passive smoking increases miscarriage risk later in life

If you’re a woman who was exposed to second-hand smoke during your childhood you are more at risk of fertility problems or miscarriage, according to new research.
Toxins breathed in from passive smoking when young could have caused permanent damage that will harm your chances of falling pregnant or miscarrying the baby during pregnancy.
A team from the University of Rochester in New York studied nearly 5,000 women who gave details about their attempts to fall pregnant, miscarriages and history of being exposed to second-hand smoke.
A third of the women questioned lost one or more babies while 11% had difficulty falling pregnant. In total, 40% of women reported problems with prenatal pregnancy such as miscarriages and struggling to become pregnant.
Four out of five women reported being exposed to passive smoke during their life and 50% grew up in a home where a parent smoked. Of those who during their childhood had parents who smoked, 26% were found to be more likely to have difficulty conceiving and 39% were more likely to have suffered a miscarriage.
An estimated 17% of mothers smoke during their pregnancy despite the many warnings about how it affects their health and that of their unborn baby. Passive smoking is also likely to interfere with hormones which will affect fertility.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Anti-smoking law: Only 1% of Nigerians are protected by smoke-free laws —Report

By Waheed Bakare

Only one per cent of Nigeria’s over 140 million people are protected by strong smoke-free laws, a new report released last Wednesday by Global Smokefree Partnership and the American Cancer Society has revealed.

Besides, the report also stated that in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, 55 per cent of school pupils were not aware that secondhand smoke is harmful to health.

Medical experts had repeatedly said there was scientific evidence that secondhand smoke was a proven cause of serious diseases and premature death.

According to the report, “Global Voices: Rebutting the Tobacco Industry, Winning Smokefree Air,” nearly 90 per cent of people on the African continent are without meaningful protection from secondhand smoke.

The report noted that it was worrisome that Africa, which accounted for 14 per cent of the world’s population, had just four per cent of the world’s smokers today. Despite the infinitesimal percentage of the world’s smokers on the continent, the report noted that African nations would soon undergo the highest increase in the rate of tobacco use among developing countries, “with more than half the continent expected to double its tobacco use within 12 years if current trends continue.”

“If we don’t act now on tobacco control in Africa, millions of lives will be lost because tobacco is now becoming an issue in Africa,” Tom Glynn of the Global Smokefree Partnership told the Agence France Presse.

Despite the gloomy picture, the report noted that many African countries were resisting tobacco industry’s aggressive efforts to stop governments from putting in place smoke-free laws.

“For the first time in history, we have the tools in hand to prevent a pandemic. Recent data suggests that, with current trends, more than half of the region of Africa will double its tobacco consumption within 12 years. Smoke-free public places are one example of a low-cost and extremely effective intervention that must be implemented now to protect health.” said Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

To back up its claim, the report observed that Kenya and Niger had enacted national smoke-free policies within the last year, and South Africa, which had been smoke-free since March 2007, still played a major role on the continent.

The South Africa’s inspiring role, the report added, was an indication that smoke-free laws could work on the continent.

“In a first for the region, Mauritius recently passed a law that is close to meeting the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control standards, ranking among the strongest anti-smoking measures in the world,” the report stated.

But it said implementation remained a challenge in many places such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Uganda, adding that “barriers include identifying resources for implementation, and tobacco industry opposition to smoke-free laws.”

For instance, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Fred Agbaj, regretted that since anti-smoking law was passed in 1990, Nigerian law enforcement agencies were yet to arrest and prosecute any violator.

He said, “I am aware that in this country, the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida passed the anti-smoking law in 1990. By this law, smoking was banned in public places. I am aware that the law is still in force but no arrest has been made. Police have access to public places where people smoke but how many have they arrested?”

Agbaje, who spoke on the phone with our correspondent, advised the government to have the will, resources and determination to enforce this law in the interest of the majority who were not smokers.

However, the Programme Manager, Enviromental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Mr. Bode Oluwafemi, faulted the report and disagreed with Agbaje.

He said the report was a “fallacy”, adding that ban of smoking in public places was still in force in Nigeria. He said the law specified that smoking should not be carried out indoors.

Oluwafemi described anti-smoking law as “citizen law meant to teach attitude.” He said if people for instance, smoke within a court premises, they had not violated the law as such places were not indoors.

“There is a lot of misconception about this law. The law says you cannot smoke indoors. If you go to government buildings, schools, restaurants, hospitals, do people smoke there? The answer is no. Enforcing the law does not mean people should be jailed. The law is self-enforcing and it is meant to teach attitudes,” he said.

In spite of this sharp division, the report exposed tobacco industry’s tactics aimed at holding back legislation and convincing African governments that tobacco was important to economic activity, that raising taxes on cigarettes and implementing smoke-free laws would result in revenue and job losses.

The report estimated that in 2010, smoking would kill six million people worldwide, 72 per cent of them would come from low and middle-income countries.

It added that if the current trends were not abated, tobacco would claim the lives of seven million people a year by 2020 and more than eight million people annually by 2030.

The report, which was launched at a media summit hosted by the American Cancer Society on November 12, 2009, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, observed that some one billion people in 45 countries were now protected from health hazards of secondhand tobacco smoke at work and in public places.

“Despite this progress, more than 85 per cent of the world’s people are without such protection,” it warned.

Countries that have enacted strong, nationwide smoke-free laws include: Bermuda, Bhutan, Colombia, Djibouti, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Most Canadian provinces/territories and Australian states/territories have also enacted such laws.

The National Secretary-General, Nigerian Medical Association Dr. Ken Okoro, said secondhand smoking is better known as perceive smoking. He said percesive smoking was when non a smoker inhale the smoke puffed out by a smoker.

Okoro in a telephone interview confirmed that perceive smoker could be at higher risk compare to a smoker because perceive smoker had no control over the quantity of smoke he or she inhales.

He said, “Sometimes a perceive smoker is sometimes more expose to danger than actual smoker. A smoker inhales the smoke and puff out some. So, he can determine the level of smoke he inhales. Whereas, a perceive smoker innocently inhales as much smoke quantity as possible and cannot puff out any smoke.

“This presupposes that a secondhand smoker can have lung cancer, small blood vessel or cardiovascular disease.”


Femi Kuti - Why I Quit Smoking

You just mentioned that you neither drink nor smoke. Where do you get your kicks?

It is my work. Hard work.

But it may be difficult for people to believe you.

That is their business. I have smoked before and I don‘t deny it. But I have stopped. I stopped smoking for fifteen years. I did it again for two years and finally stopped. I started smoking after my mother died because I was very depressed. I have not done it for a couple of years now. Because of this same argument, I stopped. I don‘t need to smoke to become a great man. Even some people say that I don‘t smoke like my dad because I am not as strong as he was. I will not smoke.

Why the decision?

It is bad for my health. It gives me chest pains, but the main reason is on moral ground. It is because I address a serious and important subject that concerns justice and values and I don‘t want anybody to rubbish me by saying that I am a smoker or that I smoke Indian hemp. If I am fighting social ills and I continue to smoke, people will not take me seriously and I don‘t want that. Even if most members of my band smoke, I have to restrain myself just to combat issues. There are so many social ills that I am fighting against in my music and I cannot afford to allow myself to be embarrassed and dismissed as a hemp smoker.


Friday, December 18, 2009

15 cigarettes: all it takes to harm genes

-Steve Connor

Study reveals the genetic mutations suffered by smokers who go on to develop lung cancer

One genetic mutation occurs on average for every 15 cigarettes that a typical lung-cancer patient smokes, according to a study that has identified for the first time all of the mutations acquired during the lifetime of a cancer patient.

Scientists have completed a full genetic analysis of the genomes of cancer patients, and hope the information will lead to a fundamental understanding of the causes of cancer – and possibly drugs and treatments – by identifying the mutations that turn a healthy cell into a cancerous tumour cell.

They studied a lung-cancer victim who had built up about 23,000 DNA mutations in his lung cells that were linked with exposure to the toxins found in cigarette smoke and had accumulated over his lifetime.

They also looked at a patient with malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, who had acquired 30,000 specific genetic mutations known to be associated with exposure to sunlight.

Scientists believe this new insight into the genetics of cancer will eventually lead to new drugs and tailor-made treatments that target the specific changes to the gene that help to trigger the disease, as well as new techniques for identifying secondary cancers that have evaded treatment in other parts of the body.

"For the first time, we have a comprehensive map of all mutations in a cancer cell," said Dr Peter Campbell of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, which led the Cancer Genome project to decipher the entire DNA sequence of tumour cells in order to identify the mutations.

"The profile of mutations we observed [in the lung-cancer patient] is exactly that expected from tobacco, suggesting that the majority of the 23,000 we found are caused by the cocktail of chemicals found in cigarettes. On the basis of average estimates, we can say that one mutation is fixed in the genome for every 15 cigarettes smoked," Dr Campbell said.

The study, published in the journal Nature, involved the sequencing of the entire genome of a lung-cancer cell 60 times in order to be sure that all of the smallest mutations were identified. The scientists then compared the genome sequence with that of a healthy cell taken from the same patient.

A similar procedure was performed on the cells of a patient with skin cancer, which is how the researchers were able to show that the malignant skin cells contained changes that resulted from exposure to ultraviolet light, said Professor Mike Stratton at the Sanger Institute.

"These are the two main cancers in the developed world for which we know the primary exposure. For lung cancer it is cigarette smoke, and for malignant melanoma it is exposure to sunlight," Professor Stratton said.

"With these genome sequences, we have been able to explore deep into the past of each tumour, uncovering with remarkable clarity the imprints of these environmental mutagens [mutation-causing agents] on DNA, which occurred years before the tumour became apparent," he said.

SOURCES 1, 2 ,3 , 4 , 5

Revolutionary case against tobacco use in Nigeria

-Alexander Chiejina

…Tobacco control bill yet to be passed by National Assembly Without a doubt, the health, economic, social, and environmental consequences of tobacco use in Nigeria and the continent are enormous.
Little wonder the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently revealed that African countries are experiencing a 4.3 percent annual increase in the rate of tobacco consumption. This has resulted in an upsurge of lung cancer and related cases which are now prevalent in the society.
It was against this background that experts, at a recent training for health reporters on cancer reporting organised by Journalists Advocacy on Tobacco and Health held recently at Ogba, Lagos urged that the trend should be checked.
Speaking at the event, Akinbode Oluwafemi, programme manager, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (FoEN), noted that tobacco smoking is responsible for more than 85 percent of lung cancers. This, he explained, is because smoking-related cancer accounts for 30 percent of cancer-related deaths, adding that renowned journalists in the country like Steve Kadiri, Yinka Craig, Momoh Kubanji, Tina Onwudinwe and Beko Ransome Kuti lost their lives due to the health hazards associated with the consumption of cigarettes.
“Research findings have it that there are about 599 approved additives in a stick of cigarette. However, cigarette smoke has been proven to contain over 4000 toxic and cancer causing chemicals; carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, to name but a few,” Oluwafemi disclosed. According to him, cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship such as ‘Welcome to London, cool feeling’ have made cigarette smoking appealing to a lot of youths, without some of these tobacco companies apprising the public of dangers associated with smoking.
Lending his view, Tosin Orogun, programme manager, Communications and IT, Africa Tobacco Control Regional Initiative (ATCRI), declared that the rise in cigarette smoking in the society is traceable to tobacco companies which increasingly target the developing world as barriers rise and smoking rates fall in more mature markets. “What we (ATCRI) have been trying to do is to facilitate the adoption, implementation and enforcement of effective in-country tobacco control policies, legislation and programs in Nigeria and across the continent,”
Orogun revealed. Already, a 2009 report on the implementation of smoke-free environments aimed at combating Global Tobacco Epidemic shows that five more countries (Djibouti, Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran, Malaysia and Mauritius) meet the best practices for health warnings on cigarette packages. Three other countries (Israel, Romania and the United Arab Emirates), meanwhile, offer comprehensive help in the drive to eradicate tobacco consumption. In the same vein, only Panama has joined the small group of countries that ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, even as more than 90 percent of people lack protection from tobacco industry marketing. Six more countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, the Netherlands and Seychelles) have levied tobacco taxes higher than 75 percent of retail price.
Lastly, of the world’s 100 most populous cities, 22 are smoke-free. Sadly, though, reports from the recently concluded media summit hosted by the American Cancer Society ahead of the AORTIC cancer in Africa, stated that 55 percent of school students are not aware that secondhand smoke is harmful to health, and only 1 percent of Nigeria’s population are protected by strong smoke-free laws. This lays bare the fact that if nothing is done to hastily check public smoking in the country, the rising figures of cancer and other non-communicable diseases may remain.
The bill to ban cigarette smoking in public places which had its public hearing before the National Assembly 19 July this year should quickly be passed into law. A part of the bill which seeks to protect people from secondhand smoke, raise taxes on tobacco, enforce a level of ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship would in the long run, save Nigerians from self- inducing cancer types.

VEHICLES OF DEATH: growing links between lung cancer and smoke

TOBACCO SMOKING - a sure way to contract LUNG CANCER

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Smoking Causes 85% Cases Of Lung Cancer - Experts

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CANCER: Experts cite smoking as a cause

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Smoking cessation offers measurable benefits for asthmatic patients

The Medical News

Asthmatic smokers may be able to reverse some of the damage to their lungs that exacerbates asthmatic symptoms just by putting down their cigarettes, according to research out of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.
The research is published in the December 15 issue of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"We found that exposure to cigarette smoke appears to increase the thickness of the epithelium, or lining, of the airways in the lung. This may be the underlying cause of the fact that smoking asthma patients experience more asthma symptoms, such as shortness of breath and phlegm production, compared to non-smoking asthma patients," said Martine Broekema, Ph.D., the lead author of the study.

Dr. Broekema and colleagues examined patients with asthma who were assessed each for the severity of their asthma and allergy, given questionnaires to determine the extent of their smoke-induced symptoms, and then underwent bronchial biopsies. Of the total of 147 patients, 66 never smoked, 46 were ex-smokers and 35 were current smokers.In addition to the changes in the epithelial thickness, Dr. Broekema found distinct differences between the current smokers and the ex- and non-smokers.

"In addition to the epithelial thickening, we found that cigarette smoke negatively affects levels of exhaled nitric oxide, making it an unreliable indicator of asthma severity in smokers," she said.

Current smokers also had more mucous-producing goblet cells in their epithelium and, the epithelial cell layer contained more mucus protein overall, when compared to never-smoking asthmatics. "These pathological findings were associated with the severity of phlegm production reported by the asthma patients, suggesting a causal relationship between the two. Smoking asthmatics also showed a distinct inflammatory profile in their lungs compared to never-smoking asthmatics, with a lower number of eosinophils and higher number of mast cells," said Dr. Broekema. "Furthermore, our data suggest that smoking cessation can reverse the thickening of the lining of the airways.

"To determine the role of exposure length on asthmatic lungs, the scientists divided the ex-smokers into two groups: those with fewer than the median 3.4 pack-year exposure and those with more than 3.4 pack-years.Interestingly, while they expected to find evidence of a dose-response effect between smoking and epithelial remodeling, no such association was apparent between the number of pack-years or duration of smoking cessation and epithelial remodeling.

"To our surprise, these two sub-groups of ex-smokers showed no difference in any outcome measure. These sub-analyses indicate that the amount of smoke exposure in the past does not influence our outcome measures," said Dr. Broekema. "This study shows again how important smoking cessation is for pulmonary health, and this appears to be especially true for asthmatic patients. The good news is that quitting appears to have a measurable benefit in these individuals."


Airway Epithelial Changes in Smoking but not in Ex-Smoking Asthmatics
Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009 Oct 1. [Epub ahead of print]
Broekema M, Ten Hacken NH, Volbeda F, Lodewijk ME, Hylkema MN, Postma DS, Timens W.

ACT bans smoking in outdoor eating areas

-ABC News

The ACT Legislative Assembly has passed tough laws banning smoking in outdoor dining and drinking areas.

Smoking is already banned in enclosed areas and the new laws will come into affect in 12 months.

Health Minister Katy Gallagher says it is a substantial step forward in reducing the harm caused by tobacco.
"In 12 months there will be no smoking in Canberra's restaurants, cafes and coffee shops," she said.

"Pubs and clubs however will be able to designate an outdoor smoking area of no more than 50 per cent of their outdoor space."

Ms Gallagher says food and drink will not be permitted in the designated smoking areas and people under the age of 18 will not be allowed in.

"This is protecting workers and members of the public from exposure to tobacco smoke," she said.

"Workers in the hospitality industry deserve the same protection that is provided to those working indoors."
The amended bill also bans smoking at all children's events.

"Not only will our children and young people no longer be exposed to the effects of tobacco smoke but the [ban] will also reinforce the no smoking message, helping to reduce the likelihood of young people taking up smoking," Ms Gallagher said.

The Opposition supported the legislation in general but health spokesman Jeremy Hanson raised some concerns.

"My concern is this will force smokers onto pavements rather than in designated smoking areas," he said.

"If that happens then that will be a negative consequence."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Newswatch Bags Four NMMA Awards

Written by Godfrey Azubike

Two Newswatch editors were among the award winners at the recent Nigeria Media Merit Awards' ceremony in Enugu
For a magazine that will be marking its 25th anniversary in two months time, Newswatch had long come to be noted for excellence and success. Winning laurels has become for it a feature of its existence and an attestation of its pre-eminent position as Nigeria’s leading newsmagazine.
On November 21, in Enugu, at an event marked to celebrate media excellence in Nigeria, Newswatch again proved its mettle by carting home four awards. The feat was accomplished by Chris Ajaero, assistant general editor, and Emmanuel Uffot, assistant editor. The duo won two awards each at the Nigeria Media Merit Awards, NMMA, held at the Nike Lake Hotel and Resort, Abakpa Nike, Enugu, that Saturday.
Ajaero won the Cecil King print journalist of the year prize as well as the Chevron Nigeria prize for Oil and Gas reporter. Uffot emerged tops in the Intercontinental Bank prize for Capital Market Reporter of the year and the Aviation Industry Reporter of the year category. They both got certificates of honour as well as cash prizes for their efforts.
Ajaero got additional laptop from Chevron, sponsors of the oil and gas award category. Taiwo Idowu of Chevron presented the gift to Ajaero. It was indeed a brilliant performance by the two Newswatch staff. The award has added to their trophy house. They both are past winners of the NMMA awards.
Ajaero first won the NMMA investigative reporter of the year in 2006, followed by the political reporter award in 2007 as well as five different DAME awards, a separate award body, while Uffot, who joined Newswatch in 2007, also clinched the Agric/Environment reporter in 2001 before later winning two DAME awards: Aviation reporter of the year 2003 and Capital Market reporter of the year 2004.
Other journalists also won laurels at the Enugu event. The roll-call began with the pronouncement of Olusola Fabiyi of Punch as winner of the Abubakar Imam prize for Newspaper Features Writer, followed by Lateef Ololade of Nationnewspapers who won the Entertainment Reporter award. Others include Lookman Ajisegiri of TELL, the news photographer of the year; Salif Atojoko of Broad Street Journal, the Money Market reporter of the year; Chukwuma Muanya of The Guardian, the newspaper reporter of the year; Shaun Igbalode of IT and Telecom Digest, the telecommunications reporter of the year and Stella Sawyer of TELL, the Agriculture Reporter of the year and female reporter of the year.
Sina Fadare emerged tops in the Culture and Tradition category; Kunle Solaja won the sport writer of the year while Chikodi Okereocha of Broad Street Journalwas voted the Education reporter and Industry reporter of the year, respectively. Like Ajaero, Okereocha also got a brand new laptop from British American Tobacco, sponsors of the industry category as well as a camera from MTN, for emerging the runners-up in the telecommunications category. In all, Broad Street Journal won eight awards while TELL got five.
TELL also won the newsmagazine of the year award while The Guardian, Channels TV and 93.7 Rhythm were adjudged the newspaper of the year, the Television Station of the year and Radio Station of the year, in that order.
Deji Badmus of Channels won the Cadbury Prize for TV reporter of the year; Ogundimu Olayinka of Silverbird carted home the Television Production of the Year prize; Seun Olagunju of AIT was voted the newscaster of the year while Momoh Kubanje of Radio Continental beat other contestants to clinch the Radio presenter of the Year Prize. Unfortunately, Kubanje, a star presenter, was not around to savour his moment of glory. He died few weeks to the NMMA event. A minute’s silence was held in his honour.
Apart from Newswatch’s four awards, the magazine was also nominated in two other categories. Sebastine Obasi, the magazine’s senior staff writer, and Anthony Akaeze, principal staff writer, were among the three nominees in the banking and finance and sport categories that were won by Solaja of Soccer Star and Raymond Mordi of Broad Street Journal.
Alade Odunewu, board chairman of NMMA, in his speech, said the NMMA awards were instituted to promote media excellence and foster unity in the country. He challanged journalists not to shirk their responsibility of holding government accountable to the people.
Tony Momoh, former information minister, who was the chairman of the NMMA award nominating panel, informed the audience that the panel that vetted the entries was inaugurated on May 12, and submitted its final report on July 14. The evaluation covered works published in 2008. Momoh enjoined journalists to always strive to improve on their performance to attain excellence.
The NMMA award night was the culmination of a three-day event that began a day earlier when the cream of Nigerian journalists landed in the town fondly called the “Coal City.” But things didn’t quite work out as planned, as the event could not begin as scheduled. The award presentation that was billed to commence at 6:00 p.m. could not start until some minutes past 10 p.m. The long delay was due to the absence of officials of the Enugu State govenment led by Sullivan Chime, the governor. For more than four hours, the audience was kept waiting.