The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) and the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) have described the approval on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 of the Draft National Tobacco Control Regulations by the Senate and House of Representatives as the most befitting health legacy of the 8th National Assembly.
NTCA and ERA/FoEN in a joint statement made available to EnviroNews said that the approval of the Regulations less than a week to the end of the current session of the National Assembly is a parting gift that will fully operationalise the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and safeguard current and future generation of Nigerians from tobacco harms.
The approval comes less than a week after the Regulations were deliberated upon at the Senate, and the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, alerted on some observed discrepancies which informed his setting up of a Conference Committee to harmonise the Senate and House of Representatives positions.
ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “This is a giant leap forward in the quest to reduce tobacco harms and getting the tobacco corporations accountable for their lethal products. We commend the National Assembly for this health legacy.”
Oluwafemi pointed out that while some of the provisions in the Regulations are not as strong as Nigerians had wanted, the approval was however a bold step that has elevated Nigeria in the committee of nations that have ratified the World Health Organisation- Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC).
The Regulations address the licensing of tobacco products, duration of the license, and the sizes of pictographs and graphic health warnings on tobacco packs, among others.
NTCA Alliance Coordinator, Oluseun Esan, said: “The tobacco control community hail this much awaited approval of the Regulations which will rollback the tobacco industry onslaught on Nigerians, particularly kids that wooed by the industry to replace a dying older getneration of smokers.”
The groups said it was worthy of mention that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, stood with Nigerians at the most decisive hour of their tenure hence their names and those of the various committee members who made the approval of the Regulations possible will be written in gold.
They also asked that the process of gazetting the Regulations and commencement of enforcement by the relevant agencies of government should not be delayed.