‘Urgent action on tobacco laws key to saving lives’
As the global community marks the World Heart Day (WHD) 2020, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), yesterday, stressed the need for the Federal Government to be cautious of tobacco industry antics and enforce the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act 2015 and National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.
CAPPA canvassed the establishment of a Tobacco Control Fund as recommended in the NTC Act 2015 to ensure sustainability of tobacco control policies in the country.
Launched in 2000 by the World Heart Federation, the day is celebrated on September 29 every year to draw attention to heart illness and a range of associated health issues globally.
The day is commemorated to promote different preventive steps and changes in lifestyle to avoid cardiovascular diseases, like heart attack, stroke, heart failure and any other condition related to the same. An estimated 17 million people die from heart-related illnesses every year.
In a statement issued in Lagos, CAPPA said the commemoration reminds governments across the globe that they must be deliberate and strategic in regulating products that negatively affect the cardiovascular health of their citizens.
CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “This year’s commemoration of the World Heart Day reinforces the need for the Nigerian government to prioritize the heart health of Nigerian citizens.
“For this to happen it has to be alert to tobacco industry manipulations and recommendations such as the so-called Draft Policy on Conventional Tobacco and Non-Combusted Alternatives to Cigarette Smoke which will only expose more people to heart diseases, among a host of other debilitating consequences.”
He explained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had shown the way by drawing global attention to the fact that a few cigarettes daily, occasional smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke or E-cigarette use increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
CAPPA had earlier confirmed that high blood pressure and heart disease increase the risk of severe COVID-19, citing a survey, which found that among people dying of COVID-19 in Italy, 67 per cent had high blood pressure and in Spain, 43 per cent of people who developed COVID-19 had heart disease.
Oluwafemi pointed out that the delay in enforcing the NTC Act and its regulations, as well as existing funding gaps in tobacco control constituted loopholes that the tobacco industry have been exploiting to interact with relevant government agencies to compromise them so as to remain in the business of manufacturing products that endanger the health of consumers and non-users alike.
“There is no better time than now for the Nigerian government to ensure adequate funding for tobacco control if we are to protect our people from heart diseases and other debilitating illnesses that the World Heart Day commemoration highlights,” he added.