C'River Govt Told To Domesticate National Tobacco Act
A civil society organization, the Legislative Advocacy Centre, has disclosed that over “20 billion sticks of cigarette are consumed in Nigeria annually which translates to N7.4 billion spent monthly and N89.5 billion spent yearly.
“Besides this, 370, 000 children and 4, 303, 000 adults respectively use tobacco daily. Of this number, 207 men in Nigeria lose their lives weekly while 17,500 Nigerians are killed annually as a result of tobacco related diseases.”
Mr Peter Unekwu-Ojo, a resource person from Cedars Refuge Foundation, made the disclosure in Calabar recently during a sensitization campaign by the Advocacy Centre on the need for the state to domesticate the National Tobacco Act.
Ojo, who deplored the adverse effects of tobacco emphasized that every cigarette one smokes reduces the smoker’s lifespan by eleven minutes.
He said tobacco causes 25 major ailments in the body and has an adverse effect on every part of the human body.
Speaking during the sensitization, the director, Legal of the organization, Adesina Oke, said the essence of the domestication was for the state to improve its internal revenue base and also improve on the health of its citizenry.
While advising the state to key into the act, Oke also said that the domestication has the potentials of increasing the revenue of the state on one hand and discouraging the unbridled use of tobacco products.
He emphasized that though tobacco is a legal product, there is a need to properly regulate its use so as not to worsen the health of citizens of the state.
According to him, “Tobacco issue is a global issue that is being introduced in the country. Tobacco itself is not an illegal product but we understand that there is a need to have a control of it and if we want to control something, there must be an enabling law for such control.
“We now have a Tobacco Control Law including a regulation and we are here in the state to see how the law can be implemented particularly the aspect of tobacco taxing, control and reduction in view of the danger that tobacco poses to the state.
“Most of the things that are in the law are not known to the people. The government and people need to know the danger tobacco poses, and the only way to really curb it is to have legislation.”
He further said, “When you have such legislation in the state, it can easily curtail the excesses of the people in the use of tobacco. Tobacco taxation not only increases the revenue of government but curtails its consumption in view of the danger it portends for mankind.”
The director maintained that the campaign against tobacco will not be sufficient if the issue of domestication is not prioritized explaining that the danger it poses to the society, is more than the revenue it generates.
He then asked government at all levels to take up the responsibility to fashion out the appropriate policies to protect the health of the people and also raise revenues emphasizing that the organization is out to ensure that people are properly guided and it is not only to impose taxes on the people but also to check the negative implications of tobacco consumption.
Also speaking, a programme manager at CISLAC, Okeke Anya, disclosed that the National Tobacco Bill was passed by the 7th session of the National Assembly, while the Act was assented to by the President in May 2015 and Gazetted in June 2015 with the enabling regulations approved by the National Assembly this year.
Lending his voice for a domestication of the Act in the state, he emphasized that one of the central objectives of the legislation was to protect the present and future generations of Nigerians from the health, social, economic and environmental effects of tobacco use.