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Monday, December 20, 2010

Tobacco: The ruthless killer next door 1

Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye, a notable essayist and columnist says that smokers are burning their lungs...

Today, as I allow my mind to endure the oppressive thought that tobacco still remains the ruthless killer next door, what then shall we call its producers and distributors? The answer can only be simple and straightforward: They are people who prosper at the expense of other people’s lives. They make their billions by ruining other people’s health, and eventually terminating their lives. They should therefore not complain if anyone refers to them as proud, happy, licensed murderers

Packs of Killer Poison

How these people are able to deaden their conscience to go on prospering and sustaining their own lives by producing and marketing a scientifically confirmed poison whose only benefit is its ability to cruelly terminate the lives of their fellow human beings beats me hollow? Tobacco never adds even the tiniest value to life; it only destroys it completely. Without mercy. This is a fact nobody has even attempted to deny.

The Nigerian president should put the concern for the lives of many Nigerians above his often whispered personal tastes and habits and take another look at the massive freedom granted by his predecessor to tobacco companies to fill Nigeria with their neatly wrapped and attractively packaged killer poison called cigarettes. If he cannot immediately ban the production of cigarettes in Nigeria, he should, at least, put in place stricter regulations that would ensure that tobacco manufacturing would automatically become a very unprofitable venture in Nigeria. 

I call on Nigerians with lively conscience and genuine friends of Nigeria, to join this clearly winnable battle, to flush these heartless fellows out of Nigeria. The question I have always asked cigarette producers is: can they boldly come out in the open and assure me that the commodity they manufacture and distribute to hapless individuals cannot be rightly classified as poison? Again, they should tell me one single benefit the human body derives from smoking cigarettes. Has it not been convincingly proved everywhere, and publicly admitted even by tobacco producers, that tobacco is a merciless killer, an unrelenting cannibal that devours a man when his life is sweetest to him?  If then tobacco is a proven killer, can’t those who manufacture and circulate it in society be classified as murderers? Hasn’t even our own Federal Ministry of Health been shouting and warning us with passion, sense of urgency and alarm that TOBACCO SMOKERS ARE LIABLE TO DIE YOUNG?

What the Health Ministry here is saying is very simple: Anyone offering you a cigarette is only wishing you an untimely death. In fact, he is just saying to you: May you die young! That is exactly what tobacco companies, including the government that issued them the license to transact their deadly trade in Nigeria are wickedly wishing their Nigerian victims! Yes, tobacco companies manufacture products that make people to die young. How wicked and heartless could they be!

Before now, these tobacco companies would erect fresh, beautiful billboards, and fill several pages of newspapers and magazines with glossy adverts. Unfortunately, that option is no longer available to them, because of the ban on outdoor advertising of their lethal products. I am glad that those pleasant pictures of vivacious achievers smiling home with glittering laurels just because they were hooked to particular brands of cigarette which used to adorn glossy billboards and magazine pages, and which had proved irresistible baits to several people, especially youths, have now vanished from the public domain. 

As a youth, the elegant, gallant, athletic rodeo man whose image marketed the 555 brand of cigarette was my best idea of a handsome, hard-working winner. My friends and I admired him, carried his photographs about, and yearned to smoke 555 in order to grow up and become energetic and vivacious like him. One wonders how many youths that have been terminally impaired because they went beyond mere fantasies or obsession with their cigarette heroes and became chain-smokers and irredeemable addicts. Managers of tobacco adverts are so adept in this grand art of monumental deception that their victims never suspect any harm until they have willingly placed their heads on the slaughter slab. Indeed, only very few are able to look beyond the meretricious pictures and the pernicious pomp of cigarette promotional stunt and see the blood-curdling pictures of piecemeally ruined lungs and other sensitive organs, murky, chimney-like breath tracts and heart region, the looming merciless and spine-chilling fangs of an all devouring cancer, tuberculosis, sundry lung and heart diseases, and their associate unyielding killers. 

Group seeks quick passage of anti-tobacco bill



The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria on Sunday stated that the passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill by the Senate was being stalled by the absence of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.
The bill which, according to the group, was sponsored by Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora from Lagos State, was scheduled to be presented for third reading last Thursday but was stood down due to the absence of Obasanjo-Bello.
The bill has been in the Senate since 2008 and is a comprehensive law that will regulate the manufacture, sales, distribution and marketing of tobacco products in Nigeria.
A statement by ERA/FoEN’s Director (Corporate Accountability and Administration), Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said it was disturbing that the bill had suffered another setback. The group urged the Senate to give it proper treatment.
He said it was a comprehensive law that would save the lives of millions of Nigerians, if passed.
Oluwafemi said, “We find it disturbing that the National Tobacco Control Bill should suffer this setback again. We think the Senate should accord the bill the importance it deserves. It is a comprehensive law that is designed to save millions of lives now and in the future.
“The tobacco control bill is a bill for the next generation and it should be treated with the utmost importance that it deserves. We are sad that once again, we seem to have missed a very important opportunity.”
Oluwafemi, however, praised the efforts made on the bill so far adding. “We salute the courage of the members of Senate who have worked on the bill in the last two years, we commend the maturity displayed by members of the health committee and especially the Senate President, David Mark, for his support. We hope the Senate will continue deliberations on the bill at the earliest opportunity.”