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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 17, 2012


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.”