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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Expert links tobacco use to cancers of the mouth

Former Chief Medical Director (CMD), Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Professor Onatolu Odukoya, has urged Nigerians to be wary of tobacco use, irrespective of its form, due to its strong link with cancers of the mouth.

Professor Odukoya, who gave the charge at a valedictory lecture to mark the sent-forth of Professor Jonathan Lawoyin, at the College of Medicine, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, declared that evidences indicate that tobacco, whether in the form of snuff, cigar or cigarette, contained a cancer-causing substance called nitrosamine.

Unfortunately, he stated that a lot of nitrosamine was present in palm wine, thus the need for Nigerian researchers to verify whether drinking palm wine could lead to individuals having cancers of the mouth.

Professor Odukoya, who described cancers of the mouth as the sixth commonest type of cancer worldwide, stated “tobacco alone might not be linked with oral cancer in Nigeria, we should endeavour to do more studies that will establish a strong association between oral cancer and other causative factors of cancer.”

While pointing out alcohol, infections, radiation, HIV and injury as some other causative factors for cancers of the mouth, Professor Odukoya emphasised the need for individuals to eat well because malnutrition rendered individuals more susceptible to different disease, including cancers.

He stated: “we have found out that vitamins E, A and C can help to prevent the development of cancer, so the whole idea is that if you eat a balanced diet, you will be at a better advantage in not having this cancer.”

The expert, who stated that the commonest part of the mouth affected by cancer was the gum, lip and tongue, urged people to be watchful for any abnormal white or red patches in the mouth, a change in voice or hoarseness, sore throat that does not subside or pain or swelling in the mouth or neck that does not subside as they could be suggestive of an early stage of oral cancer.

Professor Odukoya said it was important that government supported more research into treatment and prevention of cancers of the mouth, adding that this would enable scientists to go into communities to screen and ensure early detections of this cancer.

According to him, “once cancer starts, it can be stopped and so everybody must get screened to ensure early detection and appropriate treatment instituted.”

Earlier, the Provost of the College of Medicine, Professor Olusegun Akinyinka, represented by the deputy provost, Professor Oluremi Ogunseyinde, described Professor Lawoyin, the first dean of the Faculty of Dentistry of the college, as a true Nigerian who gave his best to both the development of his profession and his fatherland.

Sade Oguntola via

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