Nigeria announces enforcement of ban on sale of cigarettes to persons under 18

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#NoTobacco: Nigeria’s health minister announces immediate implementation of tobacco control laws

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole today announced the immediate implementation and enforcement of key sections of the 2015 National Tobacco Control Act (NTC).
The Minister made the announcement on Wednesday 31st May, 2017 during a press briefing in Abuja as part of activities to mark the World No Tobacco Day.
“Having carefully analyzed the NTC Act 2015, I wish to announce with high sense of responsibility that Government will begin implementing the following provisions;” Adewole said, as he listed the actions to be implemented as follows;
  1. Prohibition of sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below 18.
  2. Ban of sale of cigarettes in single sticks. Cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 sticks only.
  3. Smokeless tobacco shall be sold in a minimum of a pack of 30 grams.
  4. Ban of sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet or other online devices
  5. Prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues.
  6. Prohibition of smoking in anywhere on the premises of a child care facility; educational facility; and health care facility. Other prohibited places for smoking include playgrounds; amusement parks; plazas; public parks; stadium, public transports, restaurants, bars, or other public gathering spaces.
  7. Prosecution of owner or manager of any of the places listed above, who permits, encourages or fails to stop smoking in the above listed places.
  8. Prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind.
  9. Compliance with specified standard for content as set out by Standards Organisation of Nigeria.
In a statement made available to HealthNewsNG by Akinola Boade, Director of Media and Public Relations for the health minister, Adewole noted that available evidence from World Health Organization (WHO) shown that tobacco use costs national economies immensely, through increased health-care cost and decrease productivity, adding that it worsens health inequalities and increase poverty as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care.
He said that the country is currently exploring using tobacco tax and levies as means of financing the Universal Health Coverage agemda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
”Increasing taxes and levies on tobacco products can reduce its consumption and secondary generate revenue which can be used to finance universal health coverage and other developmental health programme,” he said.
He announced that the Health ministry in partnership with Washington DC based Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids will in June 2017 launch a 6-months behavioral change campaign, which he said would “create awareness among our people above the provisions of the act as well as the grave danger and burden of disease associated with tobacco use.”
Speaking earlier, the country representative of the WHO, Wondi Alemu noted that tobacco use is one of the leading predisposing factors for non-communicable diseases in the country. He cited the report from a Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted in 2013, revealed that at least 4.5 million adult Nigerians smoke tobacco.

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Paul is a freelance journalist, medical researcher and extensively published author. He holds a MSc degree in cell biology and genetics, and is a PhD candidate of the University of Ibadan

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