Following the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that tobacco will kill more than 8 million people in 2030, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) and Environmental Rights Action (ERA) have announce a strategic alliance to step up activities to fast-track the re-passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) which suffered a setback under the Sixth National Assembly following the failure of President Goodluck Jonathan to sign it into law.
ERA Director, Corporate Accountability & Administration, Akinbode Oluwafemi made the announcement during the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) commemoration organised by the two organisations in Lagos while addressing issues of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorships (TAPS).
Oluwafemi said that studies have shown that tobacco is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for killing one in 10 adults worldwide even as he added that by 2030, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that tobacco will kill more than 8 million people, with four of five of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries.
He also said that in Nigeria, the British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) which controls over 80 per cent of the Nigerian cigarette market has continued to undermine tobacco control policies, not only through deliberate misinformation and illicit actions targeted at the youth, but also through brand stretching, point of sale adverts, diverse promotions and sponsorships.
He added that BATN activities have resulted in a steep rise in smoking among youths in Nigeria revealing that a survey conducted in 2001 showed that 9.1% of Nigerian youths smoke cigarette. The figure by another survey conducted in 2008 jumped to between 17% and 27%. A recent survey in four local governments of Adamawa state put smoking rates among the youth at 33.9%.
Taking the issue from there, Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani said that smoking among Nigerian youths has assumed a frightening dimension with secondary school pupils also taking up the habit.
Rafsanjani cautioned that unless the National Assembly stepped up efforts to pass the NTCB into law, the tobacco epidemic which has reared its head in growing cancer and tobacco-related illnesses among the youth will endanger not only smokers but also the national economy which continues to carry the burden of increased medical expenses.
He said the CISLAC/ERA alliance on the NTCB will involve advocacy activities to pressure the National Assembly to fast-track the passage of the bill and presidential signature.