NTCA Seeks Legal Restrictions on Shisha, Other Tobacco Products

…Say 28,000 users die in Nigeria annually

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has expressed concern over what it described as low level of compliance to the law on graphic health warnings on tobacco products in Nigeria.

It said one of the major concerns was that other tobacco products such as snuff and shisha, which has become notoriously popular among young people, do not have graphic health warnings.

The requirement to have graphic or pictorial health warnings on the packaging of tobacco products is prescribed by the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019, in line with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Okuwafemi, said an estimated 28,000 people die in Nigeria annually due to tobacco use.

He lamented that despite the health damage resulting from tobacco use, producers are intensifying efforts to make tobacco more appealing to Nigerians.

Oluwafemi said at present, the law on graphic health warning policy requires all tobacco products to have the approved graphic images on at least 50 percent of the product packaging.

However, he said: “This very important policy suffered a setback when the tobacco industry was granted a 150-day moratorium before commencement of enforcement of the policy, thereby opening the door to more abuses.”

 Oluwafemi said that NTCA commissioned a survey last month to ascertain the compliance level of the policy on tobacco products in the country, saying the survey was carried out in Ekiti, Adamawa, Cross River, Abia, Abuja and Kano States.

Speaking on the outcome of the survey, Oluwafemi said when compared with the results from a similar survey in 2022, the result showed a significant increase in the compliance level on cigarette packs, with an estimated 90 percent compliance.

He said the compliance level of the group of tobacco products is estimated to be

below 10 percent.

“We, therefore, call on the Nigeria Police, Federal Ministries of Health and Environment, the National Security and Civil Defense Corps and all agencies charged with monitoring and enforcing of the NTCA to wake up to their responsibilities.

“Enforcement agencies must particularly monitor and enforce the policy on all tobacco products, not only on cigarette packs,” he said.

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