Nigeria - National Tobacco Control Bill - public hearing..

July 22, 2009 - The Nigeria National Tobacco Control Bill is a comprehensive law when passed to regulate the manufacturing, advertising distribution and consumption of tobacco products in Nigeria. It is a bill that is aimed at domesticating the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The bill seeks to ban smoking in public places and forbids persons under the age of 18 to sell and buy tobacco products.

The proposed law, which would amend the 1990 Tobacco Control Laws of Nigeria, also forbids communication between the manufacturers and consumers.

Some local civil society groups expressed support for the bill and called for is speedy passage because of the health hazards tobacco-smoking poses.

Senate President David Mark said yesterday, July 20th while declaring the public hearing on the bill open that "No senator has been bribed to influence the passage or otherwise of the National Tobacco Control Bill." President Mark also said, that Senators to vote by name on the ban on tobacco.

British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria on Tuesday, July 21st expressed their opposition to a proposed anti-tobacco bill to be discussed in parliament.

A representative of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Kadri, said that manufacturers were opposed to the bill because it allegedly ignored the positive contribution of tobacco firms to the society.

A BATN representative Tony Okwoju told a public hearing, organised by the senate committee on health, the law if passed "will force legal tobacco companies out of business because they will be forced to shut down their operations." He said that certain provisions in the bill were "either extreme and would have unintended consequences or will only make it difficult or impossible for the legal industry to operate without necessarily achieving the desired objective of reducing the impact of tobacco on public health". "The effect of passing a law that is not adequately considered is that it will undermine its own intentions by placing tobacco outside of the control of the regulator, thereby leaving those who continue to smoke at the mercy of smugglers," said Okwoju.

BATN, a subsidiary of the British American Tobacco group, locally produces international brands such as Benson and Hedges, Rothmans, St. Moritz, Dunhill, London Kingsize and Consulate.

BATN has pledged on Tuesday, July 21st to comply with a new legislation that seeks to control tobacco use in the country when it becomes operational.

A member of the senate committee, Kamorudeen Adedibu, said that the National Tobacco Control Bill (2009) will run down the tobacco companies and result in unemployment in the country.

A suit filed by the Nigerian government against tobacco companies operating in the country to seek damages for health hazards is pending in court.

Reference: Nigeria's tobacco lobby fumes over anti-tobacco bill, Agence France Presse (AFP), 7/21/2009; Perspectives: Public Hearing of the Nigerian Tobacco Control Bill 2009 Nigeria's tobacco lobby fumes over anti-tobacco bill, National Tobacco Control Bill, 7/23/2009.

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