The Protecting and Activating Communities Against Tobacco (PACT), a Tobacco Control Youth Movement on Saturday took to the streets of Abuja, to advocate for smoke-free spaces.

Florence Ameh PACT Hub Leader, Abuja, said they were out in the streets to sensitize people and also to get signatories against tobacco smoking in public spaces.

She said signing the petition could bolster their advocacy to the National Assembly for a proper legislation against smoking in public spaces.

She said PACT campaign is a youth-led movement to mobilize communities to disarm the tobacco industry’s tactics.

“Our aim is to raise awareness on the dangers of 2nd hand smoking and the importance of smoke free policies.

“Exposure to secondhand smoke, even for a short time, can lead to harmful health effects such as coronary heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and even premature death in adults and low birth weight, an adverse reproductive health effects in women.

“Smokefree policies and spaces can protect everybody from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.The government can enact different policies to minimize secondhand smoke.

“We are calling on the youths to lend their voice and become tobacco control champions by supporting our petition to enact smoke-free spaces in Abuja. Also, we are calling on the Minister of the FCT and Ministry of Health to prioritize and introduce smoke-free policies to protect the lives of Abuja residents.”

Speaking further, she expressed worry that every year 8 million people around the world die from tobacco use, adding that every year, 5 million Nigerians consume more than 20 million sticks of cigarettes.

“Across Africa, more than 75 million people use some form of tobacco. There is need to create awareness on the harmful effects of tobacco products, especially amongst young people who believe “smoking in all forms” is trendy.

“Young people are the major target of the tobacco industry. The industry’s marketing focus on children and young people promotes the early initiation of smoking. This is industry’s strategy to replace a dying population of tobacco products users.

“Every week, youths consume hours of digital media in the form of videos and reels on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and other social media. On-screen smoking is responsible for 44% of new adolescent smokers. it is crucial to prevent youth initiation. Recently, the tobacco industry has tried to advance youth tobacco use by peddling e-cigarettes (vapes) and shisha as harmless.

“The National Tobacco Act of 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulation of 2019 prohibit tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) in movies and entertainment. However, intentionally or not, some practitioners, influencers and retailers violate the law. “

Speaking after signing the petition, Emma Jauro, a phone accessory vendor said, “ I am asthmatic and when people smoke tobacco and its products around me, it triggers my asthmatic crisis. I wish the government will designate a confined space to smokers and stop them from smoking in public”.

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