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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ERA hails Osun on smoking ban

By Solaade Ayo-Aderele

The Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria has commended the Osun State Government for signing the Osun State Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places Bill 2009 into law, saying the decision is one of the most far-reaching efforts taken by any state in the federation to safeguard public health.
The bill prohibits smoking in cinemas, theatres or the stadium, medical establish-ments, hotels, offices, schools and public transportation, nursery institutions and lifts.
Another major highlight of the bill is the prohibition of smoking in both private and public vehicles that have non smoking occupants below the age of 18 on board.
In a statement issued in Lagos and made available to our correspondent, ERA/FoEN said that the Osun State Government had demonstrated its responsiveness to the well-being of its people and public health and should be emulated by other states.
“The Nigerian tobacco control community lauds this enviable step by the Osun State Government, as it will go a long way in checkmating the growing number of tobacco-induced deaths that have been on steady increase,” said ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi.
Oluwafemi however noted that, “Paradoxically, while Osun State has taken practical steps in safe-guarding public health, the National Assembly is still foot-dragging on translating the all-encompassing National Tobacco Control Bill into law, even with the overwhelming support that the bill received at the public hearing on July 20-21 last year.”
Reiterating ERA/FoEN’s call for the National Assembly to expedite action on the NTCB, Oluwafemi said “Nigerians are dying by the seconds due to tobacco addiction, while tobacco manufacturers laugh all the way to the bank.
“Every single day that we delay the implementation of strict laws, there will be more deaths, more ill-health and the economy will suffer,” he said.
“The trend globally shows that only far-reaching laws can stop the gale of deaths spurred by tobacco smoke,” he argued.
According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco currently kills 5.4 million people worldwide, and if current trend continues, it will kill about eight million by 2015.