By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

A Civil Society Organisation Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has called on the federal government to enforce smoke-free public places in the country now.

Speaking yesterday to mark the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) 2022, CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi,

He added that the World
Health Organisation (WHO) and its country partners use the day to draw attention to the health risks associated with tobacco use and encourage governments to adopt effective policies to reduce smoking and the fallouts of its use.

“The message behind the theme of WNTD 2022 is the fact that,
throughout its lifecycle, tobacco contaminates the environment
and impacts adversely on the health of consumers and non- consumers alike. From cultivation which involves the use of pesticides that are harmful to tobacco growers, to the cutting and burning of trees for tobacco curing which leads to deforestation (about 3.5 million hectares of land are destroyed each year) and the use of large quantities of water to cultivate tobacco, the health of man and the ecosystem is negatively impacted, and climate resilience reduced.

“In the manufacturing of cigarettes, tobacco companies are
believed to contribute 84 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent to greenhouse gases. Disturbingly, because of stringent laws in the Global North, most of the tobacco corporations have relocated to low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria. As these companies continue their active marketing of lethal products in Africa, so do they also concentrate about 90% of tobacco production in the same
region which now bears the highest environmental burdens.”

Speaking further, he said 80% of over 8 million people that die every year due to tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke live in low- and middle-income countries under which Nigeria is categorized.

“It is therefore fitting that as Nigeria joins the global community in commemorating the 2022 WNTD, the Nigerian government
and the public health community look inwards and revisit the status of tobacco control in the country, especially the
enforcement of the smoke-free public places policy contained in the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act 2015.

“The indoor public places where smoking is restricted listed in the Second
Schedule of the Act include healthcare facilities, primary and
secondary education facilities, shops, police stations and prisons, higher education facilities, transport facilities, theaters, cinemas, and stadiums among others. Unfortunately, Section 9 of the Act provides for designated smoking areas to be created where there are “sufficient number of rooms” where smoking is prohibited.

“This provision falls short of the obligations of Parties implementing Article 8 of the WHO-FCTC on providing effective protection from public and workplace exposure to tobacco smoke, to completely prohibit smoking in all parts of all indoor public places; in all parts of all indoor workplaces; on all means of public transportation; and in specified outdoor or quasi-outdoor spaces where a hazard exists due to tobacco smoke exposure.

“Because of the lacuna in the Act, Nigerians, including children are daily exposed to secondhand smoke in many indoor public spaces, non -smokers working in bars and restaurants where cigarettes, shisha and other tobacco products are brazenly displayed and consumed are also victims.

“As Nigerians contend with the environmental impacts of
tobacco, so also do they grapple with the invasion of the media
and entertainment space by the tobacco industry which
actively promotes and glamourizes smoking in content watched
by both adults and children.

“Nigerians have witnessed for instance how, despite a National
Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) ban, Big Brother Naija show, a
Pay TV programme watched by adults and children alike,
smoking among housemates is allowed and even promoted. In
the show, cigarettes are usually conspicuously displayed, and
smoking is done recklessly, with total disregard to the health of
possible non-smoker housemates.”

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