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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pass tobacco control bill

I write to call on the Senate Committee on Health led by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo -Bello and the leadership of the National Assembly to move immediately to pass the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009, sponsored by Senator Olorunnibe Mamoora. The bill, which enjoyed the support of many senators is yet to be returned to the Senate Plenary after a public hearing was conducted in July 2009.
It is a fact that there are dangers associated with smoking. The World Health organisation estimated that 5.4 million people die every year due to a tobacco related diseases. The majority of these deaths occurred in developing countries. Tobacco is the only consumer product that is guaranteed to kill half of its consumers if used according to manufacturers‘ intention. It contains more than 4,000 dangerous chemicals harmful to the body.
It is also a fact that stringent measures aimed at reducing smoking in Europe and America have driven the tobacco industry to developing countries like Nigeria.
Recent surveys suggested that more young people are becoming smokers every- day, while a survey conducted in Lagos hospitals reveals that two persons die each day from a tobacco related disease. Governments all over the world are putting measures in place to combat the epidemic through enactment of bills like the one Mamoora has proposed.
It will be to the credit of this National Assembly to expedite action on the bill and pass it before the expiration of this democratic dispensation. Nigeria played a major part in shaping global health policies especially in tobacco control. The world is watching and waiting. The National Assembly cannot afford to fail Nigerians.

Seun Akioye
1, Balogun Street, Off Awolowo Way, Ikeja, Lagos.