Civil groups decry delay in regulations for tobacco act
Worried by the delay in enforcing regulations of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015, civil society groups in the country have alerted on attempts by the tobacco industry to stymie the formulation of implementing its guidelines and regulations.
The groups, which include the Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids and Gatefield, warned that the delay in the implementation of the Act was the handiwork of moles of the tobacco industry in government agencies and ministries.
They, therefore, demanded the immediate investigation of the alleged leaks of confidential documents relating to the regulations of the Act in one of the ministries.
Deputy Executive Director of ERA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that just like in Kenya and Uruguay, the tobacco industry was involved in subversion of policies by coercing government officials to advocate on their behalf, interfering in policymaking through trade committees and third parties, as well as aggressively lobbying and bribing policymakers.
He pointed out that the first attempt to thwart the implementation of the policy was a public notice by the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA), which casted doubt on the integrity of members of the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC)- advisors to the minister of Health on how to implement the Act.
He added that the latest was a suspicious Amendment Bill by a member of the House of Representatives, which sought to vest the implementation of the NTC Act with the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Hilda Ochefu of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids also spoke on recent trends in the global tobacco control community, including a new report that showed that there was significant reduction in tobacco-induced smoking in countries implementing the global treaty on tobacco measures, while West Africa, with low implementation, was experiencing increase.
Ochefu explained that Nigeria needs to lead others to ensure implementation of tobacco control policies, as the global community was watching Nigeria to take on the leadership role.
She insisted that Nigeria cannot afford to continue to delay implementation of the NTC-Act and the adoption of strong and effective regulations.Adewunmi Emoruma of Gatefield said the tobacco industry’s marketing of tobacco products to the youths and the allure in tobacco products coming in flavours spells doom for the younger generation of Africans who may take to smoking.
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