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Monday, January 24, 2011

Tobacco suit- Lagos State, ERA challenge stay of proceedings

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Smoking youth sparks tanker fire

A youth smoking cigarette near two fuel tankers dispensing petrol in Abonnema Wharf, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, caused the burning of the tankers yesterday.
Residents of the area, who envisaged that the fire could spread, evacuated some of their property and family members.
People fighting a petrol tanker fire at Abonema Wharf in Port Harcourt, Rivers State ... yesterday. The fire was said to have been sparked by a cigarette. PHOTO: NAN
The state fire service battled to contain the inferno. One of the tankers was completely burnt.
A resident, who pleaded for anonymity, said some youths in the area are always extorting money from the tanker drivers, or force them to part with some fuel.
Two persons, who sustained injury, were rushed to the hospital.
Riot policemen and security agents were deployed in the area, to avoid a breakdown of law and order.
The Public Relations Officer of Pathfinder, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Yeibo, described the incident as unfortunate.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Smoke-free public places: Taking a cue from Spain

SIR: A New Year ushers in good tidings and new beginnings. For Spaniards, it was the beginning of a new era, as their government was ready to start the year on a “clean bill of health” and taking their health as top priority. On January 2, 2011, the Spanish government placed a complete ban on smoking in public places. These include bars, restaurants, casinos, workplaces, other enclosed public places and even outdoor areas such as playgrounds, hospital yards etc. Non-compliance with this ban attracts a fine of $40 and as high as $100,000 if caught three times.

Spain is not the first country to take the initiative of enacting a smoking ban to protect her citizens from the harmful effect of tobacco. Several other countries have done the same in the past, these include the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, France, Italy,  Australia, Finland, New Zealand, most states of the USA, Egypt, Uganda, to mention a few.

Safeguarding the health of the citizens is the responsibility of any people-oriented government. The ban of smoking in public places is one of the proven ways of controlling tobacco consumption and reducing tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

Over 167 countries are signatories to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which is a treaty with several articles aimed at achieving global tobacco control. Nigeria who ratified the FCTC guidelines in 2004 is presently yet to pass the tobacco control bill and also lacks a comprehensive tobacco control structure.

Smoke-free environment helps to de-normalise tobacco smoking, protects non-smokers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke and helps current smokers to consider quitting. Consequently, individuals, government and insurance companies would spend less income treating tobacco-related diseases. The products of the tobacco industry are generally known and even self-acclaimed to be addictive and injurious to one’s health, causing several health conditions. In simple terms, the tobacco industry is a threat to the health sector of any country. Therefore, a comprehensive tobacco control structure should be put in place to control tobacco consumption in Nigeria.

Arguments such as unemployment that could result from the enactment of smoke-free public places legislation are largely baseless. This is because it’s been widely reported that enforcement of this ban in other countries has shown no negative economic impact and in fact, some economic gains were noted in the long term. Conversely, such countries have experienced a significant drop in the smoking population and an evidence-based improvement in the health of the citizens.

As a nation, our true asset is our health and this should be guarded jealously. Let’s prevail on the National Assembly to pass the Nigeria National Tobacco Control Bill before the expiration of this current dispensation.  It’s a new year and we could take a cue from Spain!

Monday, January 17, 2011

‘How smoking causes instant gene damage’

A STUDY by United States (U.S.) scientists has shown how cigarette smoking within minutes causes genetic damage linked to cancer.

The Agence France Presse (AFP) quoted researchers as saying that the “effect is so fast that it’s equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream.”

The study is the first on humans to track how substances in tobacco cause deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, issued by the American Chemical Society.

Using 12 volunteer smokers, scientists tracked pollutants called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carried in tobacco smoke and can also be found in coal-burning plants and in charred barbecue food.

They followed one particular type – phenanthrene, which is found in cigarette smoke – through the blood and saw it form a toxic substance that is known to “trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer,” the study said.

“The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers: just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking,” the study said.

“These results are significant because PAH diol epoxides react readily with DNA, induce mutations, and are considered to be ultimate carcinogens of multiple PAH in cigarette smoke,” the study said.

Lead scientist, Stephen Hecht, said the study is unique because it examines the effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, without interference from other sources of harm such as pollution or a poor diet.

“The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes,” Hecht said.

Lung cancer kills about 3,000 people around the world each day, and 90 per cent of those deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

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.”