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National Tobacco Control Bill Should Conform With Global Convention – Groups Tell Senate

A coalition of civil society groups have urged the Senate to ensure that the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) which will be open for public hearing on Wednesday (October 15, 2014) is in conformity with the provisions of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC).
Nigeria has signed and ratified the convention.

The groups: Environmental Rights Action, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), and the National Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) in a statement issued in Abuja, said a tobacco control bill that is in sync with the FCTC will not only promote public health , but also be fulfilling Nigeria’s obligation under the FCTC.
They insisted that the parliament must plug any loophole that can be exploited by the tobacco industry to undermine the spirit and intention of the bill

ERA/FoEN Director, Corporate Accountability, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “The public hearing on the National Tobacco Control Bill is a welcome development and presents another opportunity for our lawmakers in the Senate to side with the people by ensuring that the bill is in tandem with the FCTC which is the first global health treaty.
“The Senate must stand firm in the face of growing misinterpretation of the tobacco control bill by agents of the tobacco industry. It must remain vigilant and resist the deceptions and lies of the tobacco industry and their front groups.”
Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani said: “The public hearing is coming at a time that the health burden instigated by tobacco products has started assuming alarming proportions. Nothing short of effective regulation of the manufacture, sale and distribution of such lethal products is needed now.”
In the same vein, Interim Chair of NTCA, Dr. Lanre Oginni stressed the importance of ensuring that key provisions of the tobacco control bill are strengthened.
“For instance, the Senate must shun all backdoor attempts at getting the tobacco industry to dictate its own regulation through suggestions to be part of the National Tobacco Control Committee.

“This is unacceptable and remains an anomaly. It is like a criminal chairing a panel set up to try him. The Senate must be wary of such dubious suggestions from groups being funded by the tobacco industry,” Oginni said.

On the key elements of the Bill, the groups recommends:
1. Creation of a National Tobacco Control Committee to be coordinated by the Minister of health, and to embrace all stakeholders to ensure tobacco control policies are effectively implemented. The tobacco industry and its allies are not to be considered as stakeholders.

2. Adoption of higher taxes and price measures to reduce tobacco consumption going by global studies that have shown that higher tobacco prices encourage cessation among existing tobacco users, while preventing initiation among potential users
3. Ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship

4. Enacting 100 per cent smoke-free laws that ban smoking in all indoor workplaces and public places (including restaurants, bars and other hospitality venues) and public transport. There should be no room for Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs).
5. Prominent graphic health (picture) warnings on tobacco packages covering 75 per cent of the principal display areas: Effective warning labels increase awareness about risks associated with smoking and can prevent the youth from starting to smoke and encourage smokers to quit.
6. Exclusion of the tobacco industry from tobacco control policies and implementation: The tobacco industry is not a legitimate public health stakeholder, as tobacco has no known health benefits.
7. Prohibition of the sale of cigarette to and by minors.

8. Prohibition of sale in single sticks: cigarettes should be sold in packs of not less than 20 sticks.
9. Clear enforcement mechanisms and penalties and fines strong enough to serve as deterrent.
10. Active participation of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the enforcement of the law. The CSOs must be without any tobacco industry affiliation.

11. Massive public awareness campaigns on the dangers of tobacco use: The public should be educated through awareness campaign about dangers inherent in tobacco consumption.

12. Prohibition of sale of cigarettes in vending machines since there is no mechanism to prevent children to access those machines

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