‘Government, not private sector, should implement tobacco control law’
If the government is committed to addressing the concerns about production and marketing of tobacco products in the country, it should implement the National Tobacco Control Act (NTCA 2015), a group has said.
According to the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA), it is not proper to blame industry players for failure to enforce the NTCA to protect the health of Nigerians.
In a statement, the group which lauded the promulgation of the NTCA, said: “It is the responsibility of the executive arm to enforce whatever regulations that are contained in the Act. It is erroneous to blame industry players for non-implementation of the law. Rather than liaise with the appropriate organ of government to know why the Act is not being enforced, anti-tobacco groups are blaming the industry players, when they have always insisted on regulations that are fair, credible and enforceable.”
Executive Director of IPPA, Thompson Ayodele, who noted that groups opposing tobacco want its production and consumption banned, said the approach would erode the progress already made in the sector.
“What is sensible is to come up with policy alternatives that can strengthen the existing ones. Rather than take this route, some groups have been involved in data mining and cherry-picking. The top three killer diseases (Malaria, HIV/AIDS and Diarrhea) show no direct or near correlation with the consumption of tobacco products. This calls to question the credibility of data released on the number of people who will be affected by smoking in 2025.
“Of course the health of Nigerians should not be treated with a kid-glove. Every responsible government will want its population to be healthy, however, banning a legal product has its unintended consequences because people will explore other avenues to get the same product, no matter how illegal. This will threaten development in terms of loss of revenue that operators of legitimate businesses pay, and the activities of smugglers which could exacerbate the security situation in the country.”
IPPA said Nigeria, as a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, should ensure that local laws that are consistent with WHO framework are enforced by relevant organs of government.