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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

World Cancer Day: ERA/FoEN asks Jonathan to pass tobacco bill

As the world marks the World Cancer Day commemorated February 4 annually, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has asked President Goodluck Jonathan to append his signature to the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) passed by the Senate and concurred by the House of Representatives last year, to avoid needless deaths arising from tobacco use.

The World Cancer Day is a global observance that helps to raise people’s awareness of cancer and how to prevent, detect or treat it. The 2012 event has as its theme: “Together It Is Possible.”

In marking the event, the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls on the global community to address the world’s growing cancer burden and work on effective control measures.

Cancer is a leading cause of death around the world. The WHO says it accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13 per cent of all deaths) in 2008 and estimates point to the fact that 84 million people will die of cancer between 2005 and 2015 without intervention. Low-income and medium-income countries are harder hit by cancer than the high-resource countries.

In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the 2012 event was another reminder to the Federal Government on the need to honour its commitments to ensuring the health and wellbeing of its citizens.

“The World Cancer Day is another opportunity to raise awareness on tobacco-related deaths which has not only robbed this nation of great minds, but also adds to the huge health burden of the nation,” said ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi.

“While we feel worried about the delay in the presidential assent, we reiterate our belief that the president’s signature on this far-reaching law will stem needless deaths arising from this deadly product glamorized by the tobacco industry.”

“There is no other time than now for the president to reverse the gale of deaths induced by tobacco products and write his name in the annals of this nation has one who sided with public health. This opportunity should not be left unutilized,” Oluwafemi noted.

The Senate had in a unanimous vote in 2011 passed the Bill which was sponsored by Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora representing Lagos East Senatorial District. The Senate version was concurred by the House of Representatives on May 31, 2011.

The bill domesticates the W.H.O-initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global standard for tobacco control. Its major highlights include: Ban on single sticks sale of cigarettes; ban on tobacco advertisement, sponsorship and promotions, ban on selling cigarettes to persons under the age of 18; ban on smoking of tobacco products in public places which includes airports and public buildings; and ban on selling single stick cigarettes, among others.