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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Group calls for urgent passage of tobacco bill to law

 Env i r o n m e n t a l Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/ FoEN) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to, as a matter of urgency, sign to law the National Tobacco Control Bill in order to save the lives of millions of Nigerians who are daily smoking to their grave. Director of Corporate Accountability of ERA/ FoEN, Mr Olufemi Akinbode, who disclosed this while presenting the shadow report on the implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, FCTC, said the bill which scaled the second reading in the sixth Senate in February 2009, failed to see the light of the day till today.

 Against this background, Akinbode said his group has to research on the shadow report in order to draw the attention of the current senate and Nigerians to the incalculable damage the failure of not passing the bill will cause Nigerian citizens.
He lamented that seven years after Nigeria ratified the FCTC; it has not made any appreciable progress towards the eradication of the tobacco epidemic and reduction of addiction, because the process of domestication cannot take place until the President signs the bill to law.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Nigeria must check activities of tobacco giants

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Environmentalists urge Jonathan to sign tobacco Bill

President Goodluck Jonathan has been urged to sign the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) into law.
Speaking at the presentation of its Shadow Report on implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Nigeria, the Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN) yesterday in Lagos said the country stands to gain a lot from the domestication of the FCTC.
According to the group, since Nigeria ratified the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) FCTC in 2005, nothing significant has been achieved.
The group said Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora presented the National Tobacco Control Bill to the sixth National Assembly in 2008 as part of effort to domesticate its provisions, adding that till date, tobacco control in the country has left much to be desired.
ERA/ FoEN’s Director in charge of Corporate Accountability, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the passage of the NTCB will be the beginning of effective tobacco control legislation in the country.
"Nigeria will not make any progress towards the eradication of the tobacco epidemic and reduction of addiction without the signing into law, the NTCB," he said.
ERA’s Head, National Tobacco Control Campaign, Mr Seun Akioye, said the ban on outdoor/billboard advertising was obeyed by the tobacco industry, but that the ban on Point of Sale (POS) advertising has been ignored. He added that most of the stores and supermarkets advertise tobacco products while some expose cigarette shelves to young people and underage persons.
He said there were umbrellas, posters, kiosks and other means of outdoor advertising freely displayed.
Akioye said the prices of cigarette should be increased as well as the taxes on tobacco products effected to reduce the demand for tobacco. "During the Shadow Report, ERA/ FoEN wass able to establishe that the country is behind in implementing tax measures to reduce the demand for tobacco. Also, the average price of a pack of cigarette is N300 while the average discounted price stands at N80," he said.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Group faults BATN over investment in Nigeria

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has faulted claims by British America Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) that its investment in Nigeria has been beneficial to the country.
ERA/FoEN in a statement said it was necessary to put the facts right following remarks by the Managing Director of BATN, Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, at an investment forum last Thursday.
She had said at the forum that the company’s investment initiative in had turned out to be "a win-win situation" for the company and Nigeria.
BATN had in 2001 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government to establish a $150 million tobacco factory in Ibadan.
Since then, the company has been targeting young Nigerians in a bid to recruit them as replacement smokers.
It has successfully done this through musical concerts, fashion shows and other promotional events like the Secret Smoking Parties that ERA/FoEN alerted the nation about when the events held in Ajegunle and Victoria Island, both in Lagos.
In a statement in Lagos, ERA/FoEN described the company’s claims as "sheer dishonesty", insisting that BATN continues to rake in profits as Nigerians harvest death and the health burden associated with the failure of the Federal Government to regulate the activities of tobacco companies operating in the country.
ERA/FoEN’s Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said, "It is extremely fallacious and vexing for BATN to describe its stranglehold on the huge and largely uninformed Nigerian consumer market as a win-win situation.
‘’That remark is unfortunate and can be likened to a victory song by a company that has an avowed mission of conscripting new smokers through the glamorization of a deadly product."
Oluwafemi noted that: "For instance, in Lagos, one among the Nigerian states targeted by BATN for its image blitz, a 2006 survey in 11 government-owned hospitals revealed that at least two persons die daily from a tobacco-related disease.
‘’The survey also revealed that the Lagos government expends at least N216, 000 treating each of the 9,527 tobacco related cases documented while individual patient spends an additional N70,000."
Oluwafemi reiterated ERA/FoEN demand for the signing of the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) by President Goodluck Jonathan.

‘Foreign Direct Investments key to economic growth’

  • BAT Nigeria MD says company was established in response to the federal government drive for FDIs
Beverley Spencer-Obatoyinbo, the Area Managing Director of British American Tobacco (BAT) Nigeria, has said that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is the key to sustainable socio-economic national growth.
Speaking at the Nigerian British Chamber of Commerce’s March 2012 breakfast meeting in Lagos, Spencer-Obatoyinbo in a paper titled ‘Driving National Growth through Foreign Direct Investment’ said is one of the most dynamic international resource that flows into developing countries, bringing with it benefits capable of driving sustainable growth.
The Area MD said Nigeria - given her natural resource base and large market size - qualifies to be a major recipient of FDI in Nigeria, adding that BAT was established in the country in response to FG’s drive for FDIs.
As a result, she urged everyone in the meeting to look critically at how Foreign Direct Investment could be utilised to drive this growth especially in the non-oil sectors.
“But this [economic growth] has to be achieved by ensuring that firms with global best practices, ethical standards with the common goal of achieving economic growth in different areas are established,” she said. “According to recent reports, over 80% of our population earn less than $2 a day. A growing economy like ours needs a sizable amount of inflow of external resources to bridge the saving and foreign exchange gaps and work towards a sustainable growth level in order to eliminate any form of pervasive poverty.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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