The Federal Government (FG), of Nigeria has been urged by the World Health Organisation (WHO), to make haste in ratifying the Unite Nation’s (UN), protocol so as to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products in an event to mark the annual May 31 “World No Tobacco Day” which hosted 40 students from three Secondary Schools held on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
Speaking at the event themed “Stop Illicit Trade of Tobacco Products”, which was jointly organised by the UN Information Centre (UNIC), The Nigeria Heart Foundation (NHF), and the UN Association of Nigeria (UNAN), the WHO Lagos coordinator, Dr. Sunday Ajiboye, made the call to the FG stating that it was not enough that the nation had signed the protocol.
“Recognising the enormity of illicit trade in tobacco products, the international community came together with a protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products.
“To date, only 14 countries in the African region have signed the protocol and just two have ratified it.
“We, therefore, urge the Nigerian government to urgently join other African countries that have ratified the protocol in their countries,” he said.
Dr. Ajiboye also pointed out that ratifying the anti-tobacco law would protect Nigeria from the financial, legal, social and health consequences associated with the illicit tobacco trade. Mrs. Adeola Adedeji, the UNIC administrative assistant, while delivering the UN Secretary-General’s, Ban Ki-Moon, message said that the tobacco trade was luring younger and poorer groups into becoming addicts and that the trade had a continued effect of depleting the ability of states to charge taxes that would otherwise have supported and improved health services.
Also, Mr. Dapo Rotifa whois the Director of Tobacco at NHF said that the nation needed to take advantage of the Anti-Tobacco Bill which was signed by former President Goodluck Jonathan. He said that about 600,000 of the six million people the global tobacco epidemic killed every year were non-smokers.
Mrs. Olatoyosi Onaolapo, a lawyer and the coordination of the Coalition Against Tobacco, asserted that if the FG increased taxes placed on tobacco products, it would discourage children from smoking. She also called for an urgent ban on all tobacco adverts placed across the country and asked for government’s commitment in enforcing the Anti-Tobacco Law.