Tobacco products contain harmful chemicals, causative cancer agents ― Health Minister

as Dogara says over 17,000 Nigerians killed by tobacco yearly

MEDICAL experts and other stakeholders who converged in Abuja on Thursday at the interactive session on Tobacco Regulation, 2018 drafted by the Nigerian Government expressed overwhelming support for the enactment of the laws, which seeks to safeguard millions of Nigerian citizens from cancer and other deadly diseases.

In his presentation, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who spoke at the interactive session with stakeholders on National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2018, organised by the House Committee on Delegated Legislation, chaired by Hon Simon Arabo explained that the move to seek the approval of the House was in pursuant of section 39 of the National Tobacco Act, 2015, as a legal framework for effective implementation of the Act.

According to him, “Tobacco is scientifically established as a product deleterious to human health, containing more than 7,000 chemicals, of which at least 250 are proven to be harmful and more than 69 are known as causative cancer agents.

“Tobacco use is a leading preventable risk factor for heart disease, stroke, hypertension, chronic respiratory disease, like asthma, etc; and a facilitator for tuberculosis development. Even if used as recommended by its manufacturer, is believed to have the potential to kill many of its users.

“WHO estimates indicate that more than 1.1 billion adults are smokers worldwide and that at least 367 million use smokeless tobacco products. Of these, over 7 million die annually through the effect of tobacco, 6 million by direct use and about 890,000 from exposure to second-hand smoke.

“If nothing is done, ladies and gentlemen, there is a good reason is fear that the number of deaths will soon increase to 8 million with Low and Middle-Income countries bearing 80 per cent of the global tobacco use burden.”

ALSO READ: NASS transmits clean copy of N30,000 National minimum wage bill to Buhari

According to the Nigeria Global Adult Tobacco Survey Report of 2012, in Nigeria, over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed annually and 5.6 per cent of adults (4.5 million) currently use tobacco products.

“The rate of exposure to second-hand smoke in public places is very high at 82 per cent, in bars and night clubs, 36.3 per cent in coffee shops and 29.3 per cent in restaurants.

“A study conducted among University of Abuja students by Jamda & Nnodu alarmingly shows that 33.3 per cent of the students are current smokers Journal of Medicine in the Tropics, Vol. 16, Issue 2, Jul-Dec 2014). The huge cost of the health system of treating tobacco-related ailments can only be imagined,” he lamented.

In his remarks, Hon Simon Arabo, chairman, House Committee on Delegated Legislation noted that the Committee’s responsibility was to align subsidiary legislation with the provisions of the principal legislation.

“In Nigeria, the law that regulates the Tobacco industry is the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015. The Act empowers the Minister of Health to make regulations to achieve the objectives of the Act subject to the approval of both Houses of the National Assembly.”

He explained that the Minister produced the draft National Tobacco Control Regulations 2018 and same transmitted by President Muhammadu Buhari on the 20th December 2018 to the National Assembly for approval pursuant to the provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015.

Speaking, the Speaker Hon Yakubu Dogara who declared open the interactive session open, observed that whopping sum of $591 million was being spent annually on tobacco-related diseases.

The Speaker who was represented by Hon Pally Iriase, Deputy Chief Whip stressed the need to align with the global campaign on control measures on the consumption and advertisement of tobacco because of the harmful effect of tobacco use.

According to him, “Nigeria as a notable tobacco market and influential country in Africa, ratified the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005.

“The aim of the Convention is to ensure that tobacco and tobacco product control policies of State/Parties are implemented over and above the commercial and other interest of the tobacco industry.

“It provides a framework for tobacco control measures to be implemented by the Parties at the national, regional and international levels in order to reduce continually and substantially the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

“A lot of Nigerians are exposed on a daily basis to environmental tobacco smoke, also known as second-hand smoke. This poses serious health risks, especially among infants. Records show that exposure to second-hand smoke is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths.

“According to WHO, tobacco use kills more than seven million people annually and cost over $1.4 trillion in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity.

“In our country, over 17,000 people are said to be killed by tobacco-caused diseases, while more than 370,000 children and over 4 million adults continue to use tobacco each day.

“Also, a report published by the Environmental Rights Action (ERA) groups estimates that the Nigerian government spends as much as $591 million yearly on the treatment of diseases resulting from tobacco consumption in the country.”