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ERA/FoEN predicts eight million deaths from tobacco smoking in 2020

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AFP PHOTO / Yasser Al-Zayyat

The Environment Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has cautioned that no fewer than eight million Nigerians may die from smoking tobacco products by the year 2020.

ERA/FoEN Head, Media & Campaigns, Philip Jakpor, who spoke during a Community Tobacco Control Parliament (CTCP) in Jahi 1 Community called for concerted effort by tobacco control advocates to avert the looming disaster.

Reiterating the need to pile pressure on the government to enforce the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act 2015 to achieve the goal, he stated that presently tobacco kills nearly six million people yearly in Nigeria adding that the figures could hit eight million from year 2020 if nothing was done to check the trend.

Jakpor said that the decision of the tobacco community to commence aggressive grassroots campaigns as exemplified by the Parliament was because of the rising deaths from tobacco which can be pegged to smokers’ ingestion of 4000 chemicals including some carcinogens and pathogens while smoking or causing others to via second hand smoke.

He listed some of the dangerous chemicals in cigarette to include carbon-monoxide, tar which coats the lungs like soot in a chimney, methane, Acetone which is used in nail polish remover, and formaldehyde – a colorless liquid used to preserve the dead.

Others are ammonia, which is used as flavoring in dry cleaning and benzene, which is a hydrocarbon obtained from coal.

Also speaking, deputy executive director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi, in a presentation titled: Reversing The Tobacco Menace Through The National Tobacco Control Act said the rate of addiction to tobacco by the youths, particularly girls was becoming worrisome.

He added that tobacco smoking was the gateway to addiction to other harmful substances such as cocaine, heroin and marijuana.

He also drew the attention of participants to shisha, which he said the tobacco industry deliberately portrays as less harmful even when medical experts have proven otherwise through their researches.

Oluwafemi said the campaign at the policy level with documents was being complemented at the local level with pictorials that would help the under-informed to understand the magnitude of harm tobacco causes.

He promised the community that the tobacco control community would ensure that pictorial advocacy materials get to them before the commemoration of the 2018 World No Tobacco Day with the theme: Tobacco And Heart Diseases.

Adewunmi Emoruwa of Gatefield spoke on the threats posed by youths’ smoking habit while Michael Olaniyan of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) said the tobacco menace was a global challenge but was more prevalent in Nigeria and other developing nations with weak legislations.

Head of Jahi 1 Community, Seriki Adamu Dogo, said the visit to the community was timely and encouraged the TC community not to relent but to take the campaign to other communities across the country.


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