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Sunday, September 26, 2010

BREAKING NEWS!!! …..BAT So scared, so stupid!

With over thirty mean looking bouncers and AK 47 wielding policemen, BAT went ahead to organise its Golden Experience:The Real Gold Is  Inside  smoking  party at the Oceanview Restaurant,Lagos on Friday September 24.

With a huge sense of relief a worried BAT executive and scores of the bouncers shouted “we have seen him”, when they “captured” the  man who held the IV for Bamidele Lawal. Bamidele Lawal”s IV was the one we placed on this blog few days before the event.

Little did they realise that allowing somebody to use that IV was a decoy for the smooth passage of ERA/FoEN  volunteers and journalists that attended the event.

More very soon….

To the smoking party team, lets gets cracking for Rothmans in December!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

BAT defiant on ''kids'' smoking parties in Nigeria

Friday, September 17, 2010

More Questions over National Tobacco Control Bill

It was tagged "Bursting with Flavour". And it held on the soils of Ajegunle, the crowded enclave in Lagos, which its inhabitants love to describe as a jungle.
Get PDF here
The event is the latest promotional campaign by the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN). It has made the tobacco control community in Nigeria call for the passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill sponsored by Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora.
Leading environmental group in Nigeria, the Environmental Rights action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said the continued promotion and advertising of tobacco products to youths by the BATN runs against international protocols and standards governing the manufacture and sale of tobacco products worldwide.
The group said the tobacco giant on August 7, at the Ajeromi Ifelodun Area of Lagos, attracted a large number of young people and local music artists resident in Ajegunle and gave out free samples of Pall Mall cigarettes while branded items like T-shirts were handed out. 
According to the Director Corporate Accountability, Campaign & Administration of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi, the latest offering from the giant tobacco company has again raised the need for a comprehensive regulation of standards and practice of tobacco business in Nigeria.
"The position of ERA/FoEN has always been that we cannot operate the tobacco business in Nigeria outside of the international laws and standards which has abolished all forms of promotion and marketing of tobacco products."
One of such standard regulations is the proposed National Tobacco Control Bill currently before the National Assembly. It has been over a year now that the Sen Mamora’s comprehensive tobacco bill has undergone a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Health led by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo Bello.
But curiously, nothing has been heard about the bill since then. The recommendations made at the public hearing which should have formed the basis of the committee report on the final draft of the bill have not been released.
Nigeria’s tobacco control community has attributed the delay to underhand practices by the tobacco industry to undermine the intent of the bill. This position, according to them, was given credence when in April this year, Sen. Kamarudeen Adedibu representing the Oyo South constituency declared at a function organised by the BATN that the tobacco bill was dead.
However, Mamora debunked any allegations that the Senate might have been compromised. "You must understand why the legislative process could be slow. One you might have other bills that compete with it in the order of priority. Again the tobacco bill is quite comprehensive and voluminous unlike other bills and if you want to do a thorough job, you will need some time. We want to be fair to all concerned."
But the delay has had its consequences. The international community, which has placed so much hope on Nigeria leading Africa in implementing a comprehensive law, has had to look for another role model in Africa in the mould of Kenya and Mauritius, which have passed a similar law and vigorously pursuing its implementation.
"Nigeria led other African countries to negotiate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Geneva. I can confirm that to you. After signing and ratifying the treaty, we are supposed to domesticate it by a national law which is what the tobacco bill intends to do. But by our failure to pass the bill and serve as a model to other African countries we risk a tobacco epidemic  that may consume the next generation if current statistics is taken into consideration," Oluwafemi said.
He also blamed the continued promotion of tobacco products by BATN on the non-passage of the bill "If the bill is not passed immediately, we will continue to see such instances where the tobacco industry will continue to illegally recruit our youths through its secret smoking parties.  This has been going on since 2008 and they have organised the same criminal show all over the country.
"One needs to ask why choose Ajegunle? Why choose Terry G? It is because they can get poor impressionable youths in Ajegunle and because the sorts of kids who love Terry G also reside in Ajegunle. So, it is a well thought out and well implemented campaign strategy against the youth and the future of this country. The tobacco bill can put a stop to this."
Will the legislature find the courage to pass this much awaited bill before the end of this legislative session?  If the bill is passed against all expectations and odds, the Senate would have given Nigerians one of the best gifts of this democracy, but if it does not, then one may expect very little from future public health policy promises.
The bill, as proposed by Mamora, will help reduce the burden of the tobacco epidemic that is expected to arise from uncoordinated and unrestricted business environment which tobacco giants currently operate in.
The bill prohibits the sale of single stick cigarettes; calls for a periodic increase in taxation in order to discourage access to the deadly product; it provides for a ban on smoking in all designated public places and provides for a framework to seek legal redress for anyone who got sick from smoking.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco currently kills 5.4 million people annually. A 2006 survey from Lagos State Ministry of Health also reveals that at least two persons die every day from a tobacco-related disease in the state. This was the basis for a legal suit instituted by the state against major tobacco companies in Nigeria.
Currently more than 10 states have signed up to similar suits against tobacco companies and the Federal Government in November 2007 instituted a similar suit at the Abuja Federal High Court.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Foot Dragging on Tobacco Bill

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Enough is enough on smoking parties'

Akinbobe Olufemi of environmental rights action
What is the status of the tobacco bill in the National Assembly?

I think the Senate Committee on Health, probably will have the most updated piece of news about the status of this bill. Because for us as a pressure group and citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we have done what is expected of us in terms of giving the necessary technical back up, helping to mobilise support, helping to explain to the Nigerian people what this bill is all about. And as can be confirmed by both the media and surveys carried out in Nigeria, this is one bill that is enjoying overwhelming support because it is a public health bill.
This is a bill that is also enjoying overwhelming support in the Senate. But we are surprised that since the public hearing in July 21, 2009, the Senate committee is yet to turn back this bill for passage at the plenary of the Senate. Don't forget that at the second reading of the bill, the Senate president actually gave that committee two weeks to work on the bill. Now, two years after, we are yet to see this bill which everybody agrees is of utmost importance, that this bill will help in reducing the number of deaths, ill health, and cost on our economy that is associated with smoking.
So in terms of what we know, we know that this bill has passed second reading, that over 40 NGOs including five international NGOs made presentations in support of this bill. We also know that the tobacco industry was adequately represented at the public hearing and they were asked, ‘do you actually have any problem with this bill'? And I remember, it is on tape, that the representative of the tobacco industry said no but that they were only questioning a few sections in this bill. So why the Senate Health Committee has not been able to deliver this bill to the Nigerian people is actually a question only that committee can answer.
What about the argument that passage of the bill result in job cuts?
BAT (British American Tobacco) has been using people to confuse both the media and the Senate, about the likely impact of this bill, and one of them is that is Senator Adedibu who said that over 200,000 Nigerians would lose their jobs. He later moved it up to 300,000. And at the public hearing, he was well seated when BAT was asked what their staff strength in Nigeria was and they replied that they have less than 1,000 in direct employment.
They were also asked to give the figure of their wholesalers; people who live directly on the tobacco business in Nigeria and the tobacco companies' representatives said about 3,000. We are talking about the wholesalers, retailers, distributors, etc. But you and I know that we cannot add that mallam that is selling 1,000 products of which cigarette is one of them, as somebody that will lose his job if he is asked not to sell cigarettes.
So what they are doing is to add the numerous people they know that somehow, because of the nature of their petty trade, sell cigarettes as people that are in direct BAT employment. That is one of the lies that is being peddled against this bill.
Any plan for a Smoke Free Lagos?
We have started that discussion because everybody is looking up to Lagos. The two states we are working on now actually approached us. We had approached Lagos State before and somehow it didn't work. I think that Lagos State is best placed now to begin a smoke-free policy, because they have actually confirmed that the state is spending so much money in treating victims of tobacco addiction. We are ready to work with them anytime any day. We initiated discussion long ago with them; we'd actually done some draft work with them and we are ready to continue on that.
What about the issue of smoking parties?
BAT has shown the Nigerian government that it is not ready to do business according to the rules of our land. BAT will go to the Senate and say something and go underground and do something else.
This issue of smoking parties actually came up in the public hearing and they were denying to high heavens. Now, we can see this is a company that is not to be trusted. We exposed the smoking parties in 2008 and they even issued a statement up to their corporate office in London, to say that they don't do something like that. Yet they've gone ahead to organise other secret parties.
Our expose is just to let the Nigerian government know that these people are still going about recruiting our youth into smoking through very mean measures, including organising parties where you have half-naked girls lighting up cigarettes for people. And if not that we got the photos, probably they would have come up to deny again that something like that was held.
What we are just saying now, particularly on the smoking parties is that enough is enough. Whether the bill is passed or not, we as citizens of this country, we have the right to protest; to embark on civil action to stop activities that we know are inimical to the health of our youth. So when next they are coming to Lagos for their next smoking party, they will be ready to see us there. We have enough intelligence to gather where they will be going. Next time we will stop it. It is either they stop it or we stop it for them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Enticing Kids to Smoke, One Hip Party at a Time

Remember the days when the Marlboro Man and Joe the Camel made cigarette smoking look utterly cool? Those days are long gone, right? Well, maybe for American youth, but not for kids in Nigeria.
According to Environmental Rights Action (ERA), a Nigerian NGO, one company -- British America Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) -- is actively targeting underage kids with their cigarettes. But this time it's not just with cool looking ads to perk kids' interest. The company is going to great lengths to actually put cigarettes into the hands of underage Nigerians.
Secret smoking parties are the latest in this tobacco company's desperate attempt to ensure that a new generation of Nigerians becomes hooked on their product. Here's how it works: invitation cards are secretly distributed; youth show up to the location of the party and are greeted by stern-looking security personnel who frisk them to ensure that no one has a camera; the kids then enter the hall to be welcomed by skimpily-clad girls who not only offer up cigarettes, but light them up for the kids right then and there. The next part really sets the stage for this movie-like scenario. While the party is going on -- often until 4 in the morning -- BATN officials are on the upper floors of the hall, cautiously observing their precious party.
No one ever asks the kids their age.