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Showing posts with label ERAFoEN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ERAFoEN. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Multi-billion naira tobacco industry comes under fire

With 20 billion sticks of cigarette valued at N200bn being consumed annually in Nigeria, the tobacco industry is sure a money spinner. However, this may not be for long as anti-tobacco groups mount pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the National Tobacco Control Bill into law. ADEDEJI ADEMIGBUJI reports. 

The tobacco industry has been described as one of the most profitable in the world. According to a global industry analyst, Euromonitor International, the global cigarette market is valued at $611bn. To market their products, tobacco companies use their enormous wealth and influence both locally, regionally and globally to protect their investment. A stakeholder’s report made available to National Mirror by the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN), affirmed that BAT is the world’s second largest quoted tobacco group by market share with brands sold in more the 180 markets, and sales estimated at 708 billion cigarettes globally in 2010. This enormous output according to Euromonitor International is estimated to translate into a gross turnover of 4.84 billion euros for the tobacco giant in 2010. However, the tobacco company’s revenues may come under pressure in Nigeria if President Goodluck Jonathan bows to pressure to sign the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB), which has been passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. With increasing litigations against cigarette manufacturers, the bill is expected to enforce compliance with the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which Nigeria is a signatory to.
The bill was drafted by the former Minister of Health, Late Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti.
Senator Olorunimbe Mamora later sponsored and presented the bill to the Senate in 2008. It passed the second reading in February 2009 and a Public Hearing was conducted on it on July 20 and 21, 2009.
According to The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) shadow report, “After manipulations by BATN to stop the presentation of the bill to the Senate, the Senate Committee on Health eventually sent the bill back to the plenary in January 2011 and it was eventually passed into law on March 15, 2011.
The House of Representatives also passed the Senate version of the bill on May 31, 2011.
Some of the provisions in the bill are consistent with the key provisions of the FCTC and when the bill is eventually signed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it would have successfully domesticated the FCTC in Nigeria.”
The bills when signed into law will punish anyone who promotes, advertises or smoke cigarette in public places among others.
Promotion of tobacco in bars will also attract huge punishment, such as imprisonment with an option of fine. Nigeria is part of the over 40 African countries that have signed the FCTC which forms a basis for NTCB.
As a result, antitobacco advocates insist that the country is obligated to adopt and implement effective legislation aimed at reducing tobacco use and tobacco smoke exposure.
The threat to tobacco industry came as a result of the rate at which consumption pattern continues to increase with the attendant health risks associated with smokers even though the revenues continue to sky rocket, and the industry continues to boom.
With the number of smoker declining in developed countries in the past two decades due to increased awareness about the dangers of smoking and stricter tobacco control measures including high-taxes on tobacco products, big tobacco multinationals have since turned their attention to Asia and Africa with high populations and lax tobacco control measures.
According to a document titled Tobacco Industry Profile – Africa Intended Uses of Report, made available to National Mirror “BAT’s regional structure was reorganised in January 2011 to increase efficiency across the company.
The regional restructuring merged the Africa and Middle East region with Eastern Europe markets.
Currently, BAT’s African operations are organised into four different areas.” One of the regional structures, includes Nigeria.
“West Africa area includes Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mauritania and Sierra Leone.
Nigeria is the major operational centre for the area with two factories in Ibadan and Zaria and area offices in Lagos,” stated the report adding that, “in 2011, the region accounted for seven per cent of global cigarette sales by volume.
The number of cigarettes sold in …Africa has increased by six per cent over the past five years, from 384 billion cigarettes in 2007 to 408 billion sticks in 2011.”
The report stated further that, “in Sub- Saharan Africa, overall cigarette volume has remained level and only increased by 0.3 per cent in the last five years.
However, at least 26 countries in the region experienced a five per cent or more increase in cigarette volume over the last five years.
The top cigarette consuming countries are South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, consuming 47 per cent of the region’s cigarette retail volume in 2011.”
In order to meet regional demand, BATN invested $70m in the Ibadan factory in addition to the earlier $150m investment which was as stated in the Park Lane MoU to generate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, generating thousands of direct and indirect employment in addition to paying taxes to the Nigerian government.
The actual growth of tobacco industry was 5.4 per cent between 2007 and 2011 while it is expected to rise to 6.2 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
National Mirror gathered that Nigeria produced 15.4 billion cigarettes in 2010 and imported 5.3 billion. An estimated 0.1 billion was exported while 20.3 billion was consumed locally.
The Executive Director of ERA, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi calculated while speaking with National Mirror that with the 20.3 billion pieces of cigarette consumed at an average price of N10 per stick, the total industry revenue stood at N200bn in 2010.
Beyond Nigeria, market analysts anticipate that a shift in demographics will continue to contribute to the overall smoking population increase in Africa.
By 2016, Euromonitor International predicts that there will be 91 million more adults in the region and that cigarette sales will grow by 11 per cent over the next five years.
Meanwhile, multinational companies like BAT, Philip Morris International (PMI), Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Imperial Tobacco Group (Imperial Tobacco) are increasing their dominance within Africa.
These four multinational companies increased their market share in the Middle East and Africa region by over 100 per cent in the last 10 years -- from 31 per cent in 2002 to 64 per cent in 2011. In 2006, African countries consumed an estimated 250 billion cigarettes, accounting for approximately four per cent of the total cigarettes consumed globally that year.
It was also revealed that Africa has a number of regional free trade blocs aimed at increasing economic development between members According to reports, the top cigarette consuming countries are South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, consuming 47 per cent of the region’s cigarette retail volume in 2011.
But if the bill is finally signed into law, the tobacco firms, especially BATN, which is a major investor in the industry, is expected to lose its huge revenue and investment but this is not a certainty.
Apart from BATN who dominates the market, JTI, (JTA) investment will also be threatened. JTI is the fourth largest tobacco company in the world and controls 10 percent of the global cigarette market.
It is the fifth largest in Africa and the Middle East in terms of retail sales volume. JTI sells cigarettes in 20 different African countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Algeria and Morocco and is actively expanding its presence in Africa through acquisitions. BATN has devised many strategies to foster a working relationship with host communities’ ad stakeholders through partnership and lobby.
The firm invested heavily on Corporate Sustainability Projects through the BATN Foundation.
Established 10 years ago, the Managing Director of BATN, Mrs. Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, said in a statement to National Mirror, “The BATNF supports agricultural development and the reduction of poverty in Nigeria by providing sustainable means for communities to be self-reliant.”
But Akinbode believed otherwise. He said the Corporate Social Responsibility spree by the tobacco firm was a mere cajole and trick to kill more Nigerians with tobacco products.
As President Jonathan continues to delay the signing of the bill into law, the founder of ERA/FoEN, Mr. Nnimmo Bassey said, “After the overwhelming support the bill received in the Senate and House of Representatives, it is sad that till date, it has not been signed by the president.
The intervention of the health minister is a singular action that generations of Nigerians will not forget.
Giving Nigerians this gift as we mark the 2012 World No Tobacco Day will be remarkable,” But an industry source told National Mirror that the delay in signing the bill into law is not unconnected with the effects such move would have on the nation’s GDP.
With the huge revenue the tobacco industry is contributing to the national product output, the source maintained that the president’s is taking his time to consider so many factors before he would sign the bill such that the articulation of FDI policy would not be undermined.
National Mirror further gathered from a BATN source that if eventually the bill is signed, the tobacco giant would look for other options to boost its sales in a way that will not violate the provisions of the bill.
But he added that the firm is committed to ensuring the development of the communities where it operates.
BATN said it embarks on continual sustainable agricultural development that entrenches modern farming techniques among farmers.


Friday, July 27, 2012

Anti-tobacco groups task media on control bill

ANTI-TOBACCO campaign groups have urged the Nigerian media to intensify efforts at ensuring that the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) becomes law and promote public health in the country.
The campaign group under the aegis of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) and Environmental Right Activists/ Friend of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) noted that the media had a duty to hold public officials accountable to the health of Nigerians and expose the rising incidence of “tobacco-related diseases, disabilities and deaths.”
The international advocacy group, CTFK, expressed concern that despite the central role that Nigeria occupies in the tobacco-control campaign in Africa, several “profit-based forces” had prevailed against the passage of the NTCB into law.
Director of CTFK programmes in Africa, Joshua Kyallo said in Lagos at a roundtable meeting with the media that tobacco-related sickness was already an epidemic around the world and six million people die from tobacco-related diseases yearly.
“In the couple of years to come, eight million people will die every year from these tobacco-related diseases. Eighty per cent of these will come from the less developed economies; most of them possibly from Africa,” he said.
Noting that there are other continents where tobacco-related illnesses are much higher than is the case in Africa, Kyallo therefore said that Africa has one unique opportunity on epidemic prevention.
His words: “We have an opportunity to act now and prevent it from becoming an epidemic. Our fear is if this becomes another epidemic we do not have the resources for all the work we have to do to deal with it.
“We see the passage of the NTCB will make a huge difference to the lives and the economy of this country and Nigeria can become a real model in Africa in tobacco-control and we are hoping that all of us can act together.”
The activist said further that it was rather disappointing that very few of the 41 African countries (Nigeria inclusive) that were signatory to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 had till date not domesticated its provisions.
He stressed that it was, however, imperative for all, especially the media, to come together on awareness creation among the populace, on the harmful nature of tobacco use.


Monday, July 23, 2012

In Lagos: Smoking Drivers To Pay N20,000

By the time Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, finally signs into law the new bill that will repeal and re-enact the road traffic law and make provisions for road traffic and vehicle inspection in the state, motorists and commercial motorcyclists, popularly called “Okada” including bullion van drivers, might be in for a very tough time with law enforcement agencies in the state.
The Lagos State House of Assembly, last Thursday, July 12, passed the bill , ready for Fashola’s assent.
The bill which emanated from the executive arm, is aimed at regulating vehicular movement and to impose strict sanctions and enforcement on any erring vehicle operator in the state.

1.Riding a motor-cycle against traffic
2. Riding on the kerb, median or road setbacks
(Penalty) 1st time offender –  N20,000.00 subsequent offender N30,000.00 or the riders motor-cycle will be impounded
3.One way driving
(Penalty) 3year jail term after psychiatric  examination
4. Smoking while driving
(Penalty) N20,000.00 fine Any driver in Lagos State caught smoking while driving will now be made to pay N20,000 as fine in the new traffic law recently passed by the state House of Assembly.)
5. Failure to give way to traffic on the left at a roundabout
(Penalty) N20,000.00 fine
6. Disobeying traffic control
(Penalty) N20,000.00
7.Violation of route by commercial   vehicles
(Penalty) N20,000.00 fine.
8. Riding motor-cycle without crash helmet for rider and passenger
(Penalty) N20,000: 00 or 3years imprisonment or both.
9. Under aged person, under 18yrs old  riding a motorcycle
(Penalty) N20,000.00.
10. Driving without valid driver’s license.
(Penalty) Vehicle to be impounded.
11. Learner driver without permit
(Penalty) N20,000.00
12. driving with fake number plate
(Penalty) 1st offender N20,000.00 and 6 month  imprisonment or both.

Stakeholders’ react
ACCORDING to Nurudeen Owodunni, a motorist; “for me, I support the decision of the state government. This is because Nigerians especially motorists need laws like this to abide by the traffic law of the state. The havoc created by one way driving is more than the benefit that it may bring to those engaging in it.
It causes accidents and it is the genesis of traffic in Lagos state. But the aspect of the law that states jail term for anyone who drives against traffic is cruel. If the government is bent on going ahead with the law, they should also not spare officers of the Nigerian Army, police and other security agencies in the state.
Mr. Gbenga Adebayo “For me it is good because it will bring sanity to Lagos roads. They should arrest and impound any vehicles caught driving against the traffic in the state.
A commercial driver, Mr. Samuel Anthony, “the government should not think of introducing such law because those who drive against the traffic do not do it out of proportion but because they are frustrated with the level of traffic in the state caused by bad roads.
Whenever it rains in Lagos, larger percent of roads in the state will not be motor able. Before the rain, some of these roads are in poor condition. And when it rains, the some sections of the road are totally out of use because it is either water-logged or damaged by the flood.
Mr. Ishaq Jato, “Before the law can be effective, there is need for the government to provide certain things. First, the state government needs to revitalise the water and rail transport system to serve as alternative means of transportation in the state.
Mr Andrew Oke, an Okada rider, said: “Lagos state is looking for a way to ban us the Okada that is why they are coming out with this stringent law. It is unnecessary and anti people. If a ban is placed on Okada operation, movement within the congested city of Lagos will be hampered while many will be thrown into unemployment market. We are not armed robbers. After all, many of the Okada riders are unemployed graduates.”

     SOURCE 1
     SOURCE 2

Thursday, July 19, 2012

‘Tobacco will kill one billion people this century’

Director, Africa Programs of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CFTK), Mr. Joshua Kyallo, has disclosed that no fewer than than one billion people will be killed globally by tobacco in the 21st century. 
Kyallo stated this in Lagos at the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) media chat. 
He said Tobacco use was the number one cause of preventable deaths around the world and that it killed 100 million people worldwide in the 20th century. 
According to Kyallo, “every year, tobacco kills more than five million people worldwide and majority started smoking as children. If current trends continue, it will kill one billion people in the 21st century. The tobacco industry’s insidious and even illegal practices are directly responsible for this evil. 
“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll around the world. We advocate public policies proven to prevent kids from smoking, help smokers quit and protect everyone from second-hand smoke. 
“The fight has being brought to Africa and Nigeria. Factually, all our development sector ranging from health, economy to education is suffering here in Africa but now we have the opportunity to support the tobacco control bill in Nigeria and rescue our future.” 
Kyallo urged President Goodluck Jonathan “to assent to the Tobacco Control Bill that has been lying on his desk since last year.” 
He added: “Truly, they argue that the tobacco industry provides employment but this is not a sufficient point for the industry not to be regulated because Tobacco kills, causes diseases and disabilities.” 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Round-table: Media and Tobacco Control Policies in Nigeria

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ERAFoEN laments Dantong’s death

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has described the killing of Gyang Dantong, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, as a great loss to public health.
In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the death of the Senator was wicked, condemnable and a sad reference on how security has degenerated in the country.
“Senator Datong’s murder, along with others, is shocking and very sad indeed. It is another illustration of how our dear Nigeria is sliding dangerously,” said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey.
According to ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability Campaigns, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Dantong would be remembered for his contributions to the upliftment of public health, particularly tobacco control.
“ERA/FoEN has worked closely with Senator Dangtong for over eight years since his days as a member of the House of Representative.
“He was a perfect gentleman who cannot hurt a fly. He was a dependable ally during the debates on the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB), which was passed by the Sixth Assembly.
ERA/FoEN also called on government to take drastic actions to arrest the deplorable security situation across the country, saying the killing of a serving Senator is an indicaton that “government is not on top of the situation.”


Monday, July 9, 2012

Dantong’s death great loss to public health, says ERA/FoEN

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has described the killing of Senator Gyang Dantong, chair of the Senate Committee on Health as a great loss to public health.
Dantong, Honorable Gyang Fulani, the Majority Leader of the Plateau State House of Assembly and several others were shot by unknown gunmen during the burial of people killed during a recent violence in Jos. The incident took place at Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State.
In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN said the death of the Senator was wicked, condemnable and a sad reference on how security has degenerated in the country.
"Senator Datong's murder along with others is shocking and very sad indeed. It is another illustration of how our dear Nigeria is sliding dangerously," said ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey.
According to ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability Campaigns, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Senator Dantong will be remembered for his contributions to the upliftment of public health, particularly tobacco control.
"ERA/FoEN has worked closely with Senator Dangtong for over eight years since his days as a member of the House of Representative. He was a perfect gentleman who cannot hurt a fly. He was a dependable ally during the debates the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) which was passed by the Sixth Assembly.
Oluwafemi added: “while we pray to God to give his family the fortitude to bear this great loss. We urge the federal government to commence immediate investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death and bring perpetrators to Justice.”
ERA/FoEN also called on government to take drastic actions to arrest the deplorable security situation across the country, saying the killing of a serving Senator is indicative of the fact that “government is not on top of the situation.”

Memoir: Senator Daylop Dantong (1957-2012)

A major tragedy struck the tobacco control community this Sunday July 8th, 2012 with the killing of Senator Daylop Dantong, the Chair of the Senate Committee of Health. Senator Dantong it was learnt was killed during the burial of people killed during the July 7th, 2012 violence in Jos.

I have worked with Senator Dangtong for over eight years since his days as a member of the House of Representative.
He was Deputy to Senator Iyabo and was a key champion of the National Tobacco Control Bill which was was later passed by the Sixth National Assembly.
With the endless wait for Presidential assent of the National Tobacco Control Bill, Senator Dantong had initiated consultation with ERA/FoEN about how to fast track the re-passage of the Bill.
I always recall how Senator Dantong held my hands after the Public Hearing battle, saying “this was a good battle, Bode keep fighting., keep fighting.”
During our last meeting (attended by Zanelle) Senator Dantong spoke with me about the spate of insecurity in his home state and how prominent citizens can no longer visit.
I believe his last visit must have been to sympatise with the families of those killed during the violence and to again seek solution to crisis on the Plateau.
On friday, two of our staff. Seun Akioye and Philip Jakpor were at the national assembly to attend a meeting initiated by him to discuss the re-passage of the bill. Though he was not at the meeting because he had to rush home for this funeral, he spoke with them on phone again pledging his commitment to the bill. As a matter of fact, we just sent a letter to his office to request a meeting with the team coming to discuss the bill next week.

Senator Dantong has been our strong pillar and one of the few we could count on.

This is a great loss to Nigeria and the tobacco control community.  - Akinbode Oluwafemi

Senator Gyang Dalyop Dantong was born March 2, 1957. He attended the University of Jos where he bagged the MBBS degree to become a medical practitioner and also got the MPH from the University of Ghana, Legon.
Prior to his foray into politics, he was the Medical Director, Vom Christian Hospital. The late Senator Dantong was elected member, House of Representatives in the 5th Assembly (2003-2007). He was elected into the Senate in 2007 to represent Plateau North Senatorial District during the 6th Assembly (2007-2011). He was returned to the Senate in 2011.
Senator Dantong was made the Chairman, Senate Committee on Health.
He was also a member of the Senate Committees on Aviation and Solid Minerals as well as the newly created Committee on Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.
Late Senator Dantong was  calm and easy going, just as he was so passionate about how to improve the health situation in Nigeria.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Battling tobacco trading

  • ERA/FoEN wants tobacco bill signed

THE National Tobacco Control Bill, passed by the Senate on March 15, 2011, and concurred by the Lower House on May 31, 2011 (World No Tobacco Day), which in July, 2009, had its   public hearing conducted by the senate and attracted more than 40 civil society groups, including groups from the tobacco industry who were against the bill; still awaits the assent of the president. However, the bill takes a forefront in improving the health of the general public. The bill which repeals the Tobacco (Control) Act 1990 CAP. T16 Laws of the Federation is aimed at domesticating the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The keys highlights of the bill are prohibition of smoking in public places; to include restaurant and bar, public transportation, schools, hospitals etc. A ban on all forms of direct and indirect advertising, prohibition of sales of cigarette 1000-meter radius of areas designated as non-smoking, mass awareness about the danger of smoking as well as the formation of committee that will guide government on the issue of tobacco control in the country.

It prohibits all forms of tobacco advertisement, sponsorships and promotions, endorsements or testimonials, sales promotions. Prohibition of the sale of tobacco products 1,000 meter radius places designated as non smoking and empowers government to use litigation to recoup liabilities related to tobacco consumption. 

Spreading Tobacco scourge
Even as tobacco death toll soars beyond 6 million, big tobacco industries have stepped up its efforts to prevent tobacco control laws from taking effect. Highly visible examples include lawsuits by Phillip Morris International and its competitors against countries like Austrialia, Norway and Uruguay for implementing strong tobacco control laws.

“Big Tobacco is very publicly bullying countries in hopes they will cave, their neighbours will cave, and treaty implementation will cave,” said Kelle Louaillier, Executive Director of Corporate Accountability International.

World Health Assembly resolution on transparency in tobacco control process, citing the findings of the Committee of Experts on Tobacco Industry Documents, states that “the tobacco industry has operated for years with the express intention of subverting the role of governments and WHO in implementing public health policies to combat the tobacco epidemic.”

For example, in an attempt to halt the adoption of pictorial health warnings on packages of tobacco, the industry recently adopted the novel tactic of suing countries under bilateral investment treaties, claiming that the warnings impinge the companies' attempts to use their legally-registered brands.

Meanwhile, the industry's attempts to undermine the treaty continue on other fronts, particularly with regard to countries' attempts to ban smoking in enclosed public places and to ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.  Tobacco advertising and promotions are everywhere. 

Despite the ban on smoking in public places, there are still promotions of cigarette smoking in clubs, parties, rural areas and sharing of gifts.  

For instance, the British American Tobacco of Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) aimed at  improving the quality of life of citizens in rural and urban areas of Nigeria through sustainable poverty alleviation, agricultural development,  potable water, environmental protection and vocational skills acquisition  are ways to get into the heart of the masses which will inturn promote cigarette smoking. 

BAT is also involved with sport sponsoring, especially football which is popular in Nigeria. FIFA's decision to prohibit tobacco ads in sports grounds and on the players shirts was only for the World cup. 

However, an odd thing is the simultaneous presence of advertising for Marlboro while nobody holds a distributing license for Marlboro in Nigeria.   

The Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) states that Tobacco industry interference is to weaken law to ensure they never get enacted and to undermine those laws.

“Even though the law didn't specify the public places but they have been moving around to kiosks, hotels, advertise with sharing umbrellas, commissioning of borehole. Tobacco company should be held responsible for both the environmental, economic, health and social cost,” said Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration.

He referred to the Tobacco companies humanitarian gestures as being against the health of the ublic. “These gestures are not strictly humanitarian gestures; most companies act for the benefit of mankind but Tobacco Company is acting against the benefit of mankind.”
He also revealed that, “Tobacco companies don't pay taxes, they actually rake the taxes from smokers. So, when they pay N1billion tax,  it means that they have sold close toN100 billion cigarettes.”

Director, People against Drug Dependence and Ignorance, Mr.Eze Eluchie adds “One of BAT's most recent and successful promotion is named Experience Hollywood: they organize film showings and with your ticket you are given a pack of cigarettes. I tried to attend one  such event with a camera but they refused to let me in with the camera.” 

Health threats
Tobacco use most commonly leads to diseases affecting the heart, with smoking being a major risk factor for heart attacks, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema, and cancer, particularly lung cancer, cancers of the larynx and mouth, and pancreatic cancer. Overall life expectancy is also reduced in regular smokers, with estimates ranging from 10_17.9 years fewer than nonsmokers.

Eluchi said 13,700 people die as a result of cigarette having 35% aid of cancer and approximately 5 million people die of cigarette everyday.

The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are people exposed to second-hand smoke and may kill up to 8 million people by 2030 if nothing drastic is done, of which more than 80per cent live in low- and middle-income countries.

Among male smokers, the lifetime risk of developing lung cancer is 17.2per cent; among female smokers, the risk is 11.6per cent. This risk is significantly lower in nonsmokers: 1.3per cent in men and 1.4per cent in women. 

The WHO/FCTC on tobacco control is to raise awareness about the addictives and harmful nature of tobacco products and industry interference with Parties' tobacco policies. Establish measures to limit interactions with the tobacco products and transparency of those interactions that occur and require information provided by the tobacco industry be transparent and accurate.

Oluwafemi urged prioritizing the health of the people above the commercial investment interests of the tobacco industry. “We want the presidency to hearken to the call from the global and local communities. He has the window of signing because the constitution is clear. The world is watching. We've not confirmed from the president if he has received the bill and no information yet if he is not going to sign for public health, nothing is too much.”

Friday, June 1, 2012

World unites against tobacco, US decries drug menace in Africa

COUNTRIES of the world yesterday united against tobacco and the industries, promising to save humanity from the myriad of health hazards associated with consumption of the product.
Meanwhile, worried by the scourge of drug trafficking in Nigeria and Africa, the United States (U.S.) has called for concerted efforts to eradicate it.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence MCCulley, gave the advice yesterday during the commissioning of one scanning machine donated to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Lagos airport.
McCulley explained that drug trafficking was a multi-billion dollar investment that destroyed lives, adding that the U.S. had watched youths induced with drug money.
“We have seen the deaths of innocent neighbours caught in the cross-fire of drug wars. We have watched our youths seduced by dealers promising escape from life’s challenges and easy money as ‘mules’ to transport their deadly poison across the world’s borders”.
At events to commemorate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2012 themed “Tobacco Industry Interference”, the countries spoke with one voice against interference by international tobacco campaign (Big Tobacco) in laws controlling consumption of the product towards achieving public health that is free of tobacco-related sicknesses and deaths.
Activists in Nigeria also took turn to recount the interference of tobacco industries in Nigeria and several attempts to “derail health policy.”  They called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently sign the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) into law.
At events in Washington and Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO), Corporate Accountability International (CAI) and partners across the globe launched a campaign to expose and challenge the industry’s interference in the global tobacco treaty (formally known as the WHO Frame-work Convention on Tobacco Control FCTC) and related policies.
Their findings revealed that even as tobacco’s yearly death toll soars beyond six million globally, “Big Tobacco has stepped-up its efforts to prevent proven tobacco control laws from taking effect. Highly visible examples include lawsuits by Philip Morris International and its competitors against countries like Australia, Norway and Uruguay for implementing strong tobacco control laws.”
Executive Director of CAI, Kelle Louaillier, stated: “Big Tobacco is very publicly bullying countries in hopes they will cave, their neighbours will cave, and treaty implementation will cave. But the tobacco industry’s intimidation has only strengthened the international community’s resolve,” she said.
CAI also released a report titled: “Cutting through the Smoke,” documenting global stories of tobacco abuse and grassroots victories. Stories from the report include “Ending the ‘cancer breaks’: NGOs challenge PMI’s influence in the Philippines” which documents the impact of tobacco’s marketing tactics aimed at women and girls in the region, and the use of corporate social responsibility programmes to protect the corporation’s image.   Also, there is “Shielding the youth: Tireless grassroots groups go up against Big Tobacco in Nigeria” which showcases the industry’s violations of international law in its direct marketing to young people.
Director of Corporate Accountability and Administration of Environmental Rights Activists/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Mr. Oluwafemi Akinbode, told The Guardian that the tobacco industries in Nigeria were interfering in areas that include finding loopholes in control laws, political influence peddling, excuses of creating job employment and tax remittance to the Federal Government and Corporate Service Responsibility (CSR), among others.
He noted that the guidelines for implementation of WHO tobacco control are clear. For instance, “Article 5.3 of the Convention requires that ‘in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law’.”
Oluwafemi urged President Goodluck Jonathan to speed up the process of signing the NTCB into law, to avail a frame-work for control of tobacco-related health issues in the country and join the comity of nations that have remained committed to public health.

National Tobacco Bill missing on Jonathan’s table

As Nigeria marks the World Tobacco Day today, the National Tobacco Bill which was passed to law by the sixth Senate on March 9, 2011 has developed wings as reports said the bill was missing on the table of President Goodluck Jonathan.
This was the conclusion of stakeholders who met at a round table conference organised by the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FOFN) in Lagos on the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Bill.
Director Corporate Accountability and Administration in ERA/FOFN, Mr. Oluwafemi Akinbode, lamented that despite the fact that the bill was passed to law about 13 months ago, the president refused to append his signature for it to become law.
According to him, all efforts to know the whereabouts of the bill in the president’s office proved abortive and all those who should know its whereabouts claimed ignorance.
“The information at our disposal indicates that the bill has completed its circle at the National Assembly and has been forwarded to the office of the Presidential Liaison Officer in the National Assembly, Senator Joy Emordi. We are expecting that the bill should be sent to the desk of the President,” he said.


Nigerians at risk of looming tobacco epidemic

In recent times, the issue of uncontrolled tobacco use has continued to attract comments from public health experts globally. This is so, following the high morbidity and mortality associated with tobacco use compared to any other risk factor.
While 2011 World Health Organisation (WHO) report revealed that tobacco currently kills over 5.4 million people annually; it also disclosed that tobacco use was the second cause of death globally (after hypertension).
Currently, it is responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide. Tobacco use is the number one preventable epidemic that the health community faces.
As Nigeria joined the rest of the World to mark ‘World No Tobacco Day’- a day set apart to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and its lethal effects, as well as promote adherence to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), environmental and health experts have tasked government at all levels to adopt preventive comprehensive health education programmes on smoking cessation and control even as they urged President Goodluck Jonathan to sign the National Tobacco Bill (NTCB).
In an interview with BusinessDay, Akinbode Oluwafemi, director, Corporate Accountability & Administration, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), disclosed that countries across the globe have made strategic efforts to combat the dangers of smoking, especially among the youth by putting laws in place to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco products.
While the enactment of national laws and domestication of WHO’s FCTC are singular efforts in this direction, Akinbode revealed that the National Tobacco Bill, which was passed by the Senate on March 15, 2011 and concurred by the House of Representatives on May 31, 2011, is awaiting the President’s signature in order to make the bill a law.
According to Akinbode, “Nigeria has made giant strides in fulfilling our international obligations by attempting to domesticate the FCTC through the National Tobacco Control Bill. The bill seeks to end advertisement, sponsorship, promotion and prohibit the sale of cigarettes to minors. It recommended pictorial warnings on cigarette packs and ban smoking in public places.
“More importantly, the bill seeks to create a committee, National Tobacco Control Committee which will serve as an advisory role in terms of reviewing the policy. That, essentially, is what the bill is all about.”
Akinbode explained that while the bill seeks 50 percent pictures of the health implications on cigarette packs, Mauritius has already enforced 70percent and Ghana thinking of about 60 percent.
“In fact, some countries like Australia have even gone beyond the pictures and talk about plain packaging. They know it that they cannot debate this because the international community has moved beyond what is even in the bill as at today. This is a bill that has direct impact on Nigerians but we are afraid these gains that we have worked for as civil society organisations, legislators and the Ministry of Health may become futile if the President does not sign the bill. We need to save Nigerian youths from the looming tobacco epidemic,” Akinbode concluded.
Sylvester Osinowo, Africa Regional president, World Association of Family Doctors, (WONCA), pointed out that smoking had been identified to cause the heaviest burden of morbidity and mortality on Nigerians compared to any other risk factor.
Osinowo stated that smoking causes coronary heart diseases, cancer and reduction in fertility for women and poses adverse social, economic and developmental effects on the lives of individuals, their families and the community at large.
“Tobacco consumption causes multiple health risks as cigarette smokers are 2.4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than non-smokers. WHO’s cancer agency also indicates that smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases. The economic burden includes direct medical care cost for tobacco-induced illnesses, absence from work, reduction in productivity and death,” Osinowo stated.
The physician hinted that the primary health care (PHC) centres nearest to the people should be empowered to do push programmes with vigour to catch the youths before they adopt the serious health hazard habit.
The WONCA president, however, recommended that anti-smoking clinics be established in the PHCs and sickbay of colleges and tertiary institutions to rehabilitate those who were enmeshed already in the habit. He also appealed to family physicians and general medical practitioners to disengage themselves from habits such as smoking so as to be good role models for the society to follow.
While the intervention of the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu is a singular action that many generations of Nigerians will not forget, it is believed that safeguarding the health of Nigerians from the dangers of tobacco use remains critical in view of rising communicable and non communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer of different types, etc.

Activists urge Jonathan to sign National Tobacco Control Bill

As the world marked the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) yesterday, activists made a passionate plea to President Goodluck Jonathan: sign the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) to prevent avoidable death from tobacco use.
They said statistics show rising deaths from tobacco use because of lax tobacco control regime.
The Environmental Rights Action (ERA), at an event to mark the WNTD in Lagos, said tobacco companies are interfering with the Bill becoming an Act.
Its Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, Mr Akibode Oluwafemi, said this year theme: Tobacco Industry Interference is in line with the current development in Nigeria.
He said the president has disobeyed the 1999 Constitution in his handling of the Bill.
He quoted Chapter five, Section 68, sub-section 4 and 5 of the constitution, which states: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within 30 days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.
“Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each Legislative House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”
Oluwafemi said there is the need for the country to domesticate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), adding that the Convention’s Article 5.3 states that “in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”
This, he said, means that the tobacco giants should be excluded from any step to implement public health policies.
He alleged that top executives of tobacco companies  paid visits  to Aso Rock during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Oluwafemi quoted the World Health Assembly’s (WHA’s) resolution 18 on transparency in tobacco control process: “The tobacco industry has operated for years with the express intention of subverting the role of government and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in implementing public health policies to combat the tobacco epidemic.”
He said the major motive of the tobacco giants is to weaken and undermine the country’s laws.

Oluwafemi said despite the ban on tobacco advertising, most of the tobacco companies still freely display their adverts in public places, such as hotels .
He said: “They paste posters on stalls announcing  free-camera phone promotion and offered free umbrellas to market women with adverts on them.”
ERA’s partner, Corporate Accountability International (CAI), has released its yearly report on tobacco entitled Cutting through the smoke. The report describes the global stories of industry abuse, grassroots victories and the path towards a healthier future.
It said families have continued to suffer the devastating health, financial and social consequences of tobacco-related diseases. 

The Nation

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Whither Nigeria's Tobacco Control Bill?

The World No Tobacco Day

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tobacco bill, big test of Jonathan’s promise – Oluwafemi

Akinbode Oluwafemi
Akinbode Oluwafemi, Director, Corporate Accountability and Campaigns of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) speaks on the National Tobacco Control Bill that is awaiting presidential assent in this interview with SINA FADARE. Excerpts:

The National Tobacco Control Bill was one of the high profile bills passed by the 6th National Assembly. What is the status of the bill now?
The bill was passed by the National Assembly, inciden-tally on World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) last year. What the people out there may not know is that passing a bill is not the end of legislative process. In fact, it is the beginning of another phase. There are legislative processes that a bill has to go through to prepare it for presidential assent. There is no time limit to the completion of this process, so it really depends on how fast the various arms of the Na-tional Assembly can work together to bring the legislative process to a completion.
But as a civil society organisation that has supported and advocated for this bill from the very beginning, ERA/FoEN has continued to offer support throughout this legis-lative process. We are now at the stage where the bill would be forwarded to the president for his signature in order to become law. This is the most delicate junction where we are afraid that the tobacco industry, having failed so far to stop this bill, may want to exact undue influence to stop it from becoming law.
You spoke about the tobacco industry’s influence over tobacco control processes. How realistic is this espe-cially in Nigeria?
The tobacco industry is known to have one of the biggest lobbying machines in the world and this is possible be-cause they have enormous financial resources with which to pay the best lawyers and lobbyists. In developing countries, the industry capitalises on poverty to bring in the trade of death in the name of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). That was the situation we found ourselves in 2001.
Is there a possibility that the signing of the bill would be tenable?
There are no legal hindrances to the signing of the bill. Let me tell you that the House of Representatives con-curred with the Senate version on the last day of legisla-tive duties in the last Assembly. There is no constitutional time frame for this process to happen. So, there is nothing to fear in this. This bill has followed to the letter, the consti-tutional lay down procedures for the enactment of a law. The only thing remaining now is for President Goodluck Jonathan to sign it and the process will be completed.
What if the President refuses to sign this bill?
No, the President cannot refuse to sign it bill. I remem-ber he said during his swearing-in that he will never let Ni-gerians down. This is a big test of the President’s promise. But he can refuse to sign a bill constitutionally. You know the executive is independent of the legislative process of law enactment and if there is a grey area, he may refuse to sign. But the tobacco bill is a public health bill. It is a bill that the President would sign. It is a bill that fulfils some of the electoral promises of Mr. President himself. Nigeria has an obligation to domesticate the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which in part is what the bill seeks to do. So, in order that we continue to fulfil our international obligations and continue our leadership role in continental and global tobacco control, Nigeria must demonstrate effectiveness and commitment at pushing through a comprehensive tobacco control policy despite the antics of the tobacco industry.
What should be done now to ensure a prompt signing of the bill?
The key is the Minister of Health. He must rise up to the occasion and take leadership of this process because the success or otherwise of public health in Nigeria is his responsibility. The minister is aware of the rising deaths associated with tobacco use; he knows that more young people under his watch are taking to smoking. He knows that while he is the Health Minister, several people are dy-ing daily from preventable tobacco deaths and he knows that the implementation of the tobacco bill will reverse this trend. There is an enormous responsibility on him. He is entrusted with the lives of Nigerians and he is aware of this. We hope and pray he will do needful.

'Nigeria's tobacco control bill is missing'

One year after the House of Representatives concurred with the National Tobacco Control Bill after it was passed by the Upper House, the bill appears to be missing.

At a Stakeholders' round table on the implementation of the bill organized by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) on Monday, in Lagos, Olorunnimbe Mamora, a former senator who sponsored the bill in 2009, told participants that "no one knows where the bill is now".
"We must track it from the National Assembly, also ask the office of the Attorney-General, and even the presidency," Mr. Mamora, who represented Lagos East constituency in the 6th Assembly, said.
"This is one of the reasons why we continue to hammer on transparency in governance."
"It is not a favour being done to the people. We need to know what is happening because we passed the bill in the National Assembly... It cannot just disappear."
The National Tobacco Control Bill, passed by the Senate on March 15, 2011, and concurred by the Lower House on May 31, 2011 (World No Tobacco Day), requires the assent of the president before it becomes law.
"We are in a funny country," Mr. Mamora continued. 
"There are things I don't understand in this country and this is one of such things. What is happening to that bill? 
"We are not sure whether the bill has been presented to the president or not. It's like the whole thing is shrouded in secrecy and confusion," Mr. Mamora said.
In July, 2009, a public hearing on the bill conducted by the senate attracted more than 40 civil society groups, including groups from the tobacco industry who were against the bill.
"There were seen and unseen forces who did not want the bill to be passed. But unfortunately, the bill has crossed the Red Sea and could not return to Egypt," Mr. Mamora said.
Highlights of the bill includes prohibition of the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18; ban of promotion of tobacco or tobacco products in any form; display of the word 'WARNING' in capital letters on every package containing tobacco product, amongst others.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Director of Corporate Accountability and Administration ERA/FoEN, said that the bill is "actually not missing."
"I think for now, even if the president doesn't have the bill, the president can request for the bill and sign it," Mr. Oluwafemi said. 
"We know that there are so many undercurrents that are happening and he [the president] needs to stand firm and resist the tobacco industry," he added. 
Mr. Oluwafemi further stated that the position of the Nigeria Constitution is "very clear on this matter."
"In the event of the president not signing the bill, he should send it back to Parliament with reasons why he's not signing. 
"Now the Parliament has the option of either revising the bill andresending it or they can veto, they can vote again on the bill and the bill becomes law," he said.