48 African CSOs Write Senate, Seek Passage of Strong Tobacco Control Regulations

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Forty-eight groups on the platform of the Africa Tobacco Control Civil Society Organisations have written to the Nigerian Senate asking it to adopt strong Tobacco Control Regulations to protect the present and future generation of Nigerians from the dire health and socio-economic consequences of tobacco use.

In a letter dated May 21, 2019, the groups said that the adoption of the Regulations is critical for effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015, provides Nigeria the unique opportunity to align with the requirements of the World Health Organisation- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), and demonstrate its global leadership in tobacco control.

The groups described the stark reality of the tobacco menace in Nigeria, drawing attention to statistics that show that in Nigeria, more than 5.6 million adults and 25,000 children use tobacco each day, leading to more than 16,100 deaths every year, which equates to 300 deaths every week.

They reminded the Senate that Nigeria ratified the WHO-FCTC in 2005 to control the growing epidemic of tobacco use, but noted with dismay that the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 is still awaiting the adoption of the Regulations governing its implementation.

They also noted that they were aware that the tobacco industry will leave no stone unturned to dissuade the Senate from adopting the Regulations in order to continue benefitting from the legislative vacuum to market their deadly products in Nigeria.

Appealing to the Senators, they urged them “to resist the maneuvers f the tobacco industry and place the health and welfare of the Nigerian population above vested interests of the tobacco industry”

They pleaded with the Senate to approve the draft Regulations before the expiration of their session on June 6, 2019 pleading that they should not wait, but approve strong tobacco control Regulations immediately.

The letter reads:
Distinguished members of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Adopt Strong Tobacco Control Regulations in Nigeria.

Please accept the regards of the under-mentioned civil society organisations that are engaged in promoting public health and protecting the population of Africa from the deadly consequences of tobacco use.

The purpose of our letter is to appeal to you to approve your country’s draft National Tobacco Control Regulations during the current session of the National Assembly which ends on June 6, 2019. We understand that these Regulations have already been adopted by the House of Representatives, and is awaiting your assent.

According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco use is responsible for innumerable diseases, causing almost nine of every 10 cases of lung cancer. Also, tobacco is the only product which kills more than 50% of its users. In Nigeria, more than 5.6 million adults and 25,000 children use tobacco each day, leading to more than 16,100 deaths every year, which equates to 300 deaths every week.

With a view to controlling the growing epidemic of tobacco use, Nigeria ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organisation (WHO FCTC) in 2005. Ratification legally obligates the country to implement the treaty.

However, we note with concern that the National Tobacco Control Act passed in 2015 is still awaiting the adoption of the Regulations governing its implementation. In the meantime, Nigeria is bearing the full brunt of an ever-increasing epidemic of tobacco use.

Distinguished Senators, adoption of the Tobacco Control Regulations is critical for an effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015. It provides Nigeria the unique opportunity to align with the requirements of the WHO-FCTC and demonstrate its global leadership in tobacco control.

Furthermore, we are aware that the tobacco industry will leave no stone unturned to dissuade you from adopting the Regulations in order to continue benefiting from the legislative vacuum to market its deadly products in Nigeria. We appeal to you to resist the manoeuvres of the tobacco industry and place the health and welfare of the Nigerian population above the vested interests of the tobacco industry.

Distinguished members of the Senate, we look forward to the approval of the draft Regulations during the current session of the Senate. It will long be remembered as your legacy and your strong commitment to protecting the present and future generations from the dire health and socio-economic consequences of tobacco use.

Please don’t wait; approve strong Tobacco Control Regulations now!!!

The groups that signed the letter include: Africa Tobacco Control Alliance, Africa Centre for Tobacco Industry Monitoring and Policy Research, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Framework Convention Alliance (FCA), Observatoire du tabac en Afrique Francophone (OTAF), and Vision for Alternative Development (VALD). Others are Health Healing Network Burundi, Coalition Camerounaise Contre le Tabac (C3T), Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA), Consumer Information Network (CIN), and Mozambique Public Health Association, among others.