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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Canvassing for a Tobacco-Free Nigeria

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Environmental activists task Jonathan, legislators on tobacco bill

THERE are fears that the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) passed by the sixth session of the National Assembly (NA) about six months ago might have been swept under the carpet and might never by assented into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Environmental activists in the country expressed this fear, alleging breach of constitutional duty, which mandates that a bill passed by the two houses of NA be sent to the President, who should “within 30 days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent (with reasons)” to the bill that is presented.
The activists under the aegis of Environmental Rights Actions/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said that nothing was yet to be communicated by the Presidency to the parliament on the NTCB, like several other bills passed at the twilight of the last assembly.
They therefore task the President to “work with the N/A to complete the process of the signing of the bill. Sign the bill immediately it is forwarded to his desk for signing and set in motion the structure and machineries to ensure the effective implementation of the bill all over Nigeria.”
Director of Corporate Accountability and Administration, ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi also called on the N/A; Special Adviser on N/A to the President, Senator Joy Emordi and every other official of the N/A to expedite the process of the bill and forward it to the President.
Oluwafemi said that Nigeria has till date failed to set a leadership role for the rest of Africa by taking preventive measures on the tobacco epidemic, safe environment through comprehensive tobacco control legislation.
The tobacco control bill seeks to regulate the manufacturing, sales and marketing of tobacco products in the country. The bill has measures that will tackle youth smoking, prohibition of the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18 among other provisions.
Oluwafemi added: “Our nation is at that crossroad where we have to make a decision whether to complete the processes for the enactment of laws that would protect the present and the future generations from harms caused by multinational whose sole motive is profit and death through the use of tobacco.”
Programme Officer, ERA, Seun Akioye added that the consequence of inaction is already with Nigeria, as the country already adds to World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 5.8 million estimate of people that die each year due to a tobacco related disease.
“According to figures from a 2006 survey conducted in 11 hospitals in Lagos, two persons die each day from a tobacco-related disease.
Our government can however step up this challenge and enact a law that will protect the young, the poor and those who have been deceived into tobacco addiction by the tobacco multinationals glamorous tobacco advertising. This bill is for today, tomorrow and the future. This bill is for our children and us, “ he said,
By Wole Oyebade via  GUARDIAN

Friday, December 2, 2011

ERA urges Jonathan to speedily sign Tobacco Control Bill

...Says death toll from tobacco consumption rising

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to speedily sign the National Tobacco Control Bill forwarded to him for assent by the National Assembly, a move which it says will check the rising death toll resulting from tobacco consumption in the country.
The comprehensive bill, sponsored by Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, was on May 31, 2011 passed by the sixth session of the National Assemby, and seeks to regulate the manufacture, sale and marketing of tobacco products in Nigeria.
It however requires the president's approval before it can be fully enforceable. Speaking with newsmen yesterday at a press briefing which held in Lagos, Akinbode Oluwafemi, director, corporate accountability and administration, ERA/FoEN, said the time had come for the nation to enact laws that would protect present and future generations from the harm caused by multinationals driven by profit rather than the protection of life.
"The consequences of not doing the right thing are dire, especially for a developing country like ours," he said, adding that the World Bank has declared that over 5.8 million people die each year of tobacco-related diseases globally; while a 2006 survey conducted in Lagos revealed that two persons die of same on a daily basis.
Oluwafemi therefore called on the president to work with the National Assembly towards completing the process of signing the bill, and set in motion the structure that would ensure full compliance across the country. "Our government should stand up and be counted for the protection of the young, the poor and those deceived into tobacco addiction by enacting a law that will protect all," he said.


Sign Tobacco Control bill now, Mamora urges president

Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, who  sponsored the National Tobacco Control Bill, said the country has a lot to benefit from the signing of the bill.
What prompted you to sponsor the National Tobacco Control Bill in the Senate?
It is out of concern for the welfare of Nigerians in general. I felt as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria then and a medical practitioner, I should take up the challenge.
What was the bill out to achieve?
Essentially to control tobacco smoking and the use of tobacco, to regulate the sale, manufacturing, advertising and promotion of tobacco in the country. It was passed in May, this year by the Senate and was concurred by the House of Representatives. It is now before Mr President for his signature.
How do you feel now that the President has not assented to the Tobacco Control bill?
Naturally, I don’t feel good about it. But I am hopeful that Mr President will invariably sign the bill, thereby making it become an Act of the National Assembly. Signing the bill into law has a global dimension because it will put Nigeria on a high pedestal in terms of being a member of the international body of the nations that has taken interest in the health of its citizenry. The bill has socio-economic importance apart from health implications. The President should not only sign the bill but should also ensure that the provisions in the law are enforced.

Concerns over Jonathan’s failure to sign Tobacco Control Bill

•President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo, with winners of the Nigeria National Merit Award. With them are (from left): Prof. Andrew Jonathan, Afigo Okpewho, Chairman Governing Board Nigeria National Merit Award, Oluwafeyisola Adekoke
A 28-year old graduate of Economics from Delta State, Dickson Dudu, was rushed to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) by some kind-hearted Nigerians after he slumped at the Ojuelegba bus stop. Dudu, an applicant, was in Lagos to attend an interview with a bank. His childhood friend disclosed that Dudu started smoking cigarette at the age of 15 when “we were in JSS 3”. He was very addicted to tobacco such that he can’t do without it unless he is asleep or in the lecture room. He has been having respiratory problems in the past three years and has been receiving treatment in the hospital.
His relations withdrew him from LUTH and took him to a private specialist hospital in Ikeja. He was examined by the doctor whose report showed that Dudu has developed lung cancer.  He died after two weeks in the hospital bed. An autopsy carried out by the hospital revealed that he died of a heart-related disease caused by his addiction to tobacco smoking.
Mr John Inyang’s case is different. He never smoked all through his 32 years on earth. But Inyang is down with lung cancer, which he got from the environment where he lives. He lives with his two brothers who smoke at least a packet of cigarettes every day. He didn’t know that their smoking habit could be more harmful to him than the smokers. Such victims like Inyang are called passive smokers.
According to medical experts, passive smokers are people living among smokers and exposed to smoke concentration in their environment. Unless Inyang gets proper treatment, he may be counted among the estimated 46,000 non-smokers who die yearly from heart disease and lung cancer.
Tosin Adeyanju, an undergraduate student, has been on hospital bed for three months for tobacco-related disease. She said cigarette smoking made her lose weight considerably. Before she was admitted in the hospital, she ate less and smoked at least 10 sticks every day. According to Tosin, she preferred smoking to eating. Lanre Onigbongi, a medical doctor at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, said this is one of the myths associated with smoking.
Onigbogi said the others include perception that smokers appear calmer, sophisticated and successful. “The success factor is a myth because very poor people constitute a high percentage of chronic smokers. The habit makes them poorer because of the money they spend on treating tobacco-related diseases”. According to him, tobacco smokers are not calm but are actually very uneasy until they take a few puffs at a cigarette. This is caused by the presence of nicotine in cigarettes.
Mrs Grace Chukwuka, 45, has been married for 15 years without a child. She had experienced miscarriages on many occasions. Her husband had taken her to many hospitals in search of solution to her problem. Reports  showed that Grace used to smoke cigarettes during pregnancy. This, according to the report, put her and the unborn baby at risk. The dangers of smoking during pregnancy, medical experts say, include premature birth, birth defects and infant deaths. Experts explained that smoking can cause problems with the placenta-the source of the baby’s food and oxygen during pregnancy. For example, the placenta can separate from the womb too early, causing bleeding, which is dangerous to the mother and baby.
Another deleterious effect of the tobacco industry in Nigeria is the issue of youth markets. Today, Nigeria is one of the largest markets for tobacco products in Africa. Statistics show that youths form over 40 per cent of the Nigerian population and 20 per cent of the youths smoke.
According to a tobacco control activist, Dr Olusegun Owotomo, statistics show that about 93 million sticks of cigarettes produced yearly in Nigeria are consumed by smokers. He said between 150,000 and 300,000 children under 18 months get respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis from second-hand smoke.
The harmful effects of tobacco led Senator Olorunimbe Mamora and ERA/FOEN to collaborate on a law to control the tobacco industry. The law was passed six months ago by the National Assembly, but has remained unsigned since then. Analysts are of the view that Nigerians are the worse for it. Mamora and Akinbode said the president must sign  the bill or give reasons why he has not assented it.
Addressing a news conference in Lagos yesterday, Akinbode said Nigeria has failed to set a leadership role for the rest of Africa.
Will Jonathan heed the call or allow the industry operate almost unregulated? Time will tell.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

It’s sad the Bill isn’t law yet, say environmentalists

The  Environmental Rights Action (ERA), yesterday said it was sad that the the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) is yet to be signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan six months after the National Assembly passed it.
Its Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, said there is the likelihood the Bill may not have gotten to the President’s desk for signature.
Oluwafemi, who spoke yesterday at a press briefing in Lagos, said President Jonathan would be mandated within 30 days to either sign the Bill into law or return it to the National Assembly with cogent reasons why it was rejected. He said the counting would start from the day it got to his table. “When it is returned by the President, if that is the case, two-third majority of the National Assembly can veto it to become a law,” he added.
He said the hopes of many Nigerians who had expected the President to sign the Bill before the United Nations high-level meeting in New York on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), was dashed. “At that meeting, many heads of states and government made a commitment towards eradicating the risk factors of NCD, one of which is tobacco use,” he added.
He said the government’s action showed it was not responsive to the health of the people, thereby lacking commitment to them. “Our leaders failed to show the world that the country is ready and determined to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by providing the people with a safe and clean environment through comprehensive tobacco control legislation.
“Nigeria has failed to set a leadership role for the rest of Africa by taking preventive measures on the tobacco epidemic. It did not complete the work on the NTCB sponsored by Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora,” Oluwafemi said.
He urged the Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to the President, Senator Joy Emordi and other legislators to expedite the process of the Bill and forward it to the President immediately.

SOURCE: via The Nation

Monday, August 15, 2011

Tobacco smoking: Stop the killer before it stops you


He was walking and all of a sudden he slumped. Thanks to some kindhearted Nigerians who quickly rushed him to the hospital. Unfortunately, he died on the way to the hospital. Further investigations revealed that the victim who was about  28 years old and just finished his youth service never showed any sign of illness before his death.
It was also gathered that young promising graduate of Business administration  was asthmatic. An autopsy carried out by authorities of the hospital to determine the cause of his death revealed that he died of a heart-related disease following his addiction to tobacco smoking.
The victim is just one of the 5.4 million people killed by tobacco use annually and one in 10 adult deaths worldwide.
Mr. Emmanuel Egwu’s case is different. Emmanuel never smoked all through his 35 years on earth.  He had never for once tried to have a drag of cigarette.  Unfortunately, Emmanuel is down with lung cancer courtesy of the environment where he lives.  Emmanuel lives with his three brothers who smoked at least 20 sticks of cigarettes a day! Little did he know that their smoking habit could cause more harm to him instead of the smokers.
Such people as Emmanuel are called passive smokers or secondhand smokers.  According to medical experts, passive smokers are people living among smokers and they are exposed to smoke concentration in the atmosphere they live in. Studies have found that passive smoking is a cause of heart disease and lung cancer and can initiate or aggravate respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.  If proper care is not taken, Emmanuel may be counted among the estimated 46,000  nonsmokers who die  yearly from heart disease and lung cancer.
Before now, smoking was one habit fashionable and acceptable to the people but has been found  after many years of study and linkages with many ailments to be as deadly as the scorpion sting.
According to medical experts, tobacco smoke in any form and at whatever level, precipitates ill-health.   Smoking has been implicated in about 60 disease conditions including  tooth loss, diabetes, impotence, stomach ulcers, ocular histoplasmosis (fungal eye infection), acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis (gum disease), hearing loss, osteoporosis, duodenal ulcer, reduced sperm count, dysmenorrhoea (painful periods), early menopause, psoriasis, colon polyps, cataracts, asthma, reduced fertility, buerger’s disease, angina optic neuropathy (vision loss), premature wrinkling, crohn’s disease and asthma amongst others. Clinical records have shown that the odds are said to be more than double for those who smoke in excess of more than 20 cigarettes a day.
Statistics from the World Health Organisation,WHO, estimates that about 1.3 billion people in the world are currently smoking and most of them are in developing countries including  Nigeria.
Globally, tobacco causes about 5.4 million deaths yearly compared to three million, two million and one million deaths caused by AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria respectively.  By 2020, WHO estimates that global death toll from smoking will hit 10 million.
According to an Independent Tobacco Control Activist, Dr. Olusegun Owotomo, statistics available show that about 93 million sticks of cigarette are produced yearly in Nigeria and every one of those cigarettes is consumed and that between 150,000 and 300,000 children under the age of 18 months get respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis from secondhand smoke. More than 40 per cent of children who visit the emergency room for severe asthma attacks live with smokers.
Despite these dangers, efforts are checking tobacco smoking is still not significant. According to WHO,  the global funding of tobacco control, is below 0 million compared to a billion for AIDS, five billion for tuberculosis and around a billion for malaria. As a result, while there has been a gradual decrease in the incidence of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, tobacco-related deaths have been on a sharp increase.
Smoking is a universal problem, which though may have peculiar geographical approaches in terms of solutions, yet remains one with universal determination in tackling.
Critical health watchers say  the ability of the tobacco industry to stage a come back in the country must be checked.
In a write-up, Dr. Olusegun Fakoya, anticipated a huge epidemic of tobacco-related diseases regretting that the resultant strain on public healthcare would be enormous as the majority of these smokers are poor people who have no means to access treatment themselves. Olusegun said with the  pathetic state of the country’s healthcare system, the impending chaos is best imagined.
A big thanks to the recent passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill by the National Assembly. He said the Bill when signed by the President will be one of the ways of forestalling the inevitable doom associated with the current kid-glove approach to the unimaginable disaster associated with smoking.
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Bill is a comprehensive law to regulate the manufacturing, advertising, distribution and consumption of tobacco products. It is a bill aimed at domesticating WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,FCTC.
WHO FCTC  is an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health. It represents a paradigm shift in developing a regulatory strategy to address addictive substances; in contrast to previous drug control treaties, and asserts the importance of demand reduction strategies as well as supply issues.
The  Bill is a comprehensive law providing for regulations of supply and demand measures relating to tobacco products. However, the recent prohibition of smoking in public places in the Bill would at least save non-smokers from dying of tobacco-related diseases.
A study on “The use of tobacco products among Nigerian adults: A general population survey” by Isidore S. Obot, Department of General and Applied Psychology, University of Jos, showed that Nigerian men smokes more than females, adding that the poor, uneducated smoke more than the relatively rich and educated.
According to the study,  “Smokers had a higher incidence of health problems and both nonsmokers and heavy smokers were less aware of the risk of smoking than light smokers.” The study suggested that  health education should be a major component of tobacco and health policy in Nigeria.
“Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) increases the risk of respiratory symptoms and lower respiratory tract illness in children, and it also increases the frequency and severity of asthma symptoms. There is evidence that parental smoking causes acute and chronic middle ear disease.”
Analysis of chemicals in the urine of women who live with smokers demonstrates that tobacco smoke carcinogen, are absorbed by nonsmokers from second-hand smoke. Women who live with smokers absorb five to six times more chemicals linked to lung cancer than do women who live with nonsmokers.
It has also been discovered that the risk of wives developing lung cancer doubled when the husbands smoked over 20  cigarettes a day. There was also an increased incidence of emphysema and asthma, although to a lesser degree.
Many studies have also shown that when parents smoke, their children cough. Babies are most at risk, with the highest percentages for bronchitis and lung ailments in infants under a year old.
Although, cigarette packets carry warnings approved by health authorities, none lists the diseases caused by smoking. The introduction of photo warnings was a desperate action by concerned governments over a habit that refused to abate despite numerous interventions.
Warnings on packs
Critical observers are calling for the inclusion of  large, graphic warnings, which is proven to motivate people to stop using tobacco and reduce the appeal for people not yet addicted to it.
Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Femi Olugbile, said the effective enforcement of the bill when passed into law is also imperative. “Introduction of bold warnings that would  take no less than 30 per cent of the space on cigarette wrappings.
In particular, the introduction of photographic warnings showing cancerous growths caused by cigarettes as obtained in countries like Thailand, Brazil, Canada and Britain, will go a long way in making an informed decision on the part of (potential) smokers to tobacco smoke, death tolls and crippling heart attacks, strokes, cancers and respiratory diseases that are becoming prevalent will be reduced.”
However, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Programme Manager, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria,ERA/FoEN, sees the passage of the Tobacco control Bill as not an attack on smoker.
Youth markets
Another aspect of tobacco activities is the issue of  youth markets.  Today, Nigeria has become one of the largest markets in Africa. Statistics show that youths form over 40 percent of the Nigerian population and 18 per cent of the youths smoke. Unless drastic steps are taken, many youths may become addicted.  A situation experts say  signifies social concern and also portends dire economic consequences.
Measures for Tobacco ControlComplete ban of advertisement, including points of sale.High taxes on cigarettes to discourage more people going into the venture.Protection of non-smokers from the often underestimated harmful effects of second-hand smoking.Expansion of smoke-free public places.Assistance to tobacco farmers to discourage the planting of tobacco.Assistance to pro-tobacco victims to ameliorate the resultant harmful effects of smoking.
Provision of adequate support to states instituting litigations for damages.
20 tips on how to stop smokingBelieve in yourself. Believe that you can quit.Sit down and write your own list, customised to your personality and way of doing things. Create your own plan for quitting.Write down why you want to quit (the benefits of quitting):Ask your family and friends to support your decision to quit.Set a quit date. Decide what day you will extinguish your cigarettes forever.Talk with your doctor about quitting. Support and guidance from a physician is a proven way to better your chances to quit.Begin an exercise programme. Exercise is simply incompatible with smoking. Exercise relieves stress and helps your body recover from years of damage from cigarettes.Do some deep breathing each day for  three  to five  minutes. Breathe in through your nose very slowly, hold the breath for a few seconds, and exhale very slowly through your mouth.Visualise your way to becoming a non-smoker.Develop your own creative visualizations.Cut back on cigarettes gradually (if you cut back gradually, be sure to set a quit date on which you WILL quit).
Quit smoking “cold turkey”.
Many smokers find that the only way they can truly quit once and for all is to just quit abruptly without trying to slowly taper off. Find the method that works best for you: gradually quitting or cold turkey. If one way doesn’t work do the other.
Find another smoker who is trying to quit, and help each other with positive words and by lending an ear when quitting becomes difficult.
Have your teeth cleaned.
After you quit, plan to celebrate the milestones in your journey to becoming a non-smoker.
Drink lots of water.
Learn what triggers your desire for a cigarette, such as stress, the end of a meal, arrival at work, entering a bar, etc. Avoid these triggers or if that’s impossible, plan alternative ways to deal with the triggers.
Find something to hold in your hand and mouth, to replace cigarettes. Consider drinking straws.
Write yourself an inspirational song or poem about quitting, cigarettes, and what it means to you to quit. Read it daily.
Keep a picture of your family or someone very important to you with you at all times.
Whenever you have a craving for a cigarette, instead of lighting up, write down your feelings or whatever is on your mind.