Nigeria’s Ministry of Health has warned that anyone caught smoking in public places faces 6 months in prison. In a communiqué, the ministry said that public places where smoking is prohibited by law in Nigeria include restaurants, bars, child care facilities, educational facilities, health care facilities, playgrounds, amusement parks, public parks (gardens), stadia, public transportation parks and Plazas. The ministry said according to Section 9 of the Nigeria Tobacco Control Act 2015, once convicted, offenders are liable to a fine of at least N50, 000 and/or six months’ imprisonment. The ministry also disclosed that the ban will be aggressively enforced by law enforcement.
The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Health, recently launched a campaign to ban smoking in public places across the country. Tagged the Clean Air Campaign, the ministry said the law would henceforth be taken seriously in a bid to protect and promote the citizens’ right to health, life, physical integrity and safety.
To ensure the success of the campaign, the ministry also said it was working in collaboration with the Cancer Society of Nigeria, World Health Organisation, ONE Campaign, Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Civil Society Organisations and the Tobacco Free Kids based in Washington DC, United States.
The communiqué also stated:
“The Federal Ministry of Health is committed to the fight to ensure a tobacco-free Nigeria, and will in the weeks and months ahead actively collaborate with law enforcement agencies to ensure enforcement of the Act, and with the National Assembly to ensure that necessary supporting regulation is passed.”
Tobacco use Scars the environment and those in it
WHO is calling on governments to implement strong tobacco control measures – such as banning tobacco marketing and advertising, promoting plain product packaging, raising excise taxes and making indoor public places and workplaces smoke-free.
For the first time, a WHO report links the impact of tobacco to nature and the environment, pointing out that tobacco waste contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens with smoke emissions contributing thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxicants and greenhouse gases.
Moreover, the report underscores, tobacco waste is the largest type of litter by count globally. Up to 10 billion of the 15 billion cigarettes sold daily are disposed of in the ecosystem and cigarette butts account for 30 to 40 per cent of items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.
“But by taking robust tobacco control measures, governments can safeguard their countries’ futures by protecting tobacco users and non-users from these deadly products, generating revenues to fund health and other social services, and saving their environments from the ravages tobacco causes,” Dr. Chan stressed.
Effect of tobacco Use On health, wealth and the economy
Tobacco use kills more than seven million people annually and costs over $1.4 trillion in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity, indicated WHO.
All countries have committed to eradicate poverty through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, key elements of which include implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). By 2030, the Convention and the Global Goals aim to cut premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by one-third, including those tobacco-related, namely heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes.
The report highlights that some 860 million adult smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Many studies have shown that in the poorest households, tobacco spending often represents more than 10 per cent of total household expenditure – leaving less money for food, education and healthcare.
Tobacco farming inhibits education, as 10–14 per cent of children from tobacco-growing families miss class to work in tobacco fields.
Additionally, the report points out, tobacco contributes to 16 per cent of all NCDs deaths. Women constitute 60–70 per cent of tobacco farm workers, putting them in close contact with often hazardous chemicals.
One of the least used, but most effective, tobacco control measures to help countries address development needs is through increasing tobacco tax and prices. Governments collect nearly $270 billion in tobacco tariffs annually, but, the report identified, this could increase by over 50 per cent, generating $141 billion more by globally raising cigarettes taxes by 80 cents per pack, or one international dollar. Strengthening domestic resource mobilization, this would create funds needed to meet the 2030 Agenda development priorities.