Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole says government will adopt all legal and administrative measures to ensure effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act.
The Minister said this in Abuja on Tuesday at the inauguration of the National Tobacco Control Committee, NATOC.
He reaffirmed government’s commitment towards “safeguarding and protecting the health of Nigerians from the risks posed by the use of tobacco and tobacco products.”
According to Adewole, “There is no permissible limit for tobacco use in whichever method, form or disguise because it is harmful to health. Tobacco, when used exactly as intended by the tobacco industry will maim and kill more than half of its users.”
The Minister said that tobacco use is responsible for 6 million deaths globally, through many medical conditions notably cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and cancers.
He charged members of the committee not to relent in the discharge of their responsibilities, pointing out that “tobacco has been red-flagged by both local and international health communities as a poisonous and highly addictive substance that requires urgent intervention.”
“It is therefore imperative to double our efforts in a sustainable and well-coordinated approach to enable us protect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians,” he said, before adding: “However, if we fail in our moral duty, we will be seen to be promoting and expanding tobacco business with dire consequences on Nigerians.”
The National Tobacco Control Committee is headed by Ukoli Onawefe, a Professor from the University of Jos; and its objective will be to advise and make recommendations to the minister on the development and implementation of tobacco control policies, strategies, plans, programmes and projects, in accordance with World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, its implementing guidelines and protocols.
Also present at the inauguration ceremony was Hilda Ochefu, the West Africa Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Campaign for Tobacco Control Free Kids, a United States based organization.
Ochefu said the inauguration of the committee represented a bold step towards ensuring effective implementation of tobacco control measures in Nigeria.
“We are encouraged by this development as it will aid effective implementation of the tobacco control law and lead to reduction in disease burdens associated with smoking,” she said.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Deputy Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth in Nigeria, also expressed delight at the inauguration of the committee saying “with this move, the Federal Government is sending strong signals that it wants to take public health issues much more serious than we have ever seen”.