2018 World No Tobacco Day: Coalition tasks FG on Tobacco Control Fund, Enforcement
By Remi Adebayo
A coalition of civil society groups have appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government to set up the Tobacco Control Fund as a major measure towards the enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act 2015.
Director, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Mr. Bode Olufemi made the call on Thursday during a press briefing marking the 2018 World No Tobacco Day in Abuja.
Olufemi stated that absence of such fund to drive policy implementation to curb increased tobacco use constitutes a setback in the campaign.
He said the TCF would allow stakeholders in the tobacco fight to gain access to resources for the implementation of the law since its passage in 2015.
Olufemi stressed that in spite of the assurances by the Minister of Finance in 2017 to enforce nine key provisions of the Nigerian tobacco control law, there was no significant step taken towards fulfilling that promise.
The rights activist therefore made a renewed call on the government in order to actualize that provision in the Act.
“Today, we’re making a very clarion call to the Federal Government of Nigeria. If you look at Part Three (3) of the National Tobacco Control Act, it states clearly that there should be established a Tobacco Control Fund (TCF).
“We are using today as a civil society groups to call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health to work together so that aspect of the law that involved the establishment of the Tobacco Control Fund should be implemented.
“We want the Fund for the tobacco control to be created. We cannot be talking of enforcement, we cannot be talking of implementation; we cannot be talking reduction of smoking, which we all agree on, without necessary resources for agencies that will drive those process,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Hilda Ochefu, Sub-Regional Coordinator, West Africa of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also restated the need for government to enforce the laws.
In his contribution, Joseph Ishaku, of the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, blamed tobacco smoking as a major cause of cardiovascular diseases putting smokers and non-smokers at risks in low and medium income countries like Nigeria, therefore must be stopped from wrecking further havocs on the people and development in the affected countries.
While applauding the tobacco rice policy starting on June 1 as a positive step, he called for a consolidated enforcement of the TCA to maximize public health and make additional revenue gains to the government.
Oluseun Esan of the Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance, while addressing newsmen, disclosed that tobacco is responsible for 6 million deaths annually, out of these, 600,000 victims are secondary smokers who got exposed in the motor parks, public transport and even in supposed smoke-free places.
He called for collaboration in launching the anti-tobacco use in the media regularly while advocating increased taxes in tobacco excise as a means of reducing access to the drug.
The 2018 World No Tobacco Day focused on “Tobacco and heart disease,” celebrated with ‘Tobacco breaks the heart, Choose Health, Not Tobacco.’
The campaign started with a Health Walk, which began at the Federal Ministry of Health and terminated at the popular Garki Market, Abuja to raise awareness on the danger of smoking.
The 2018 World No Tobacco Day in Nigeria was organised in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Federal Ministry of Health.