March 17, 2011 - A non-governmental organization (NGO), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria(ERA/FoEN), has commended the Senate over Tuesday’s, March 15th passage of the National Tobacco Control Bill. ERA/FoEN Director of Campaigns Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “The legislative house has delivered a major public health tool that will save the lives of millions of Nigerians from tobacco-induced deaths.
Akinbode pleaded with the leadership of the National Assembly “to fast –track the remaining legislative process to ensure that the bill is presented for presidential assent quickly.”
The Senate has finally passed the national tobacco control bill. The bill which is sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, Bassey Etim, had its first reading on December 11, 2007, while its Second Reading was on February 19, 2008. It was thereafter deferred to the House Committees on Health and Justice on May 14, 2008 and finally had its Third Reading and passage on June 14, 2008. The bill is expected to ensure that smoking in public places is banned. Ninety-two countries in the world have signed the tobacco bill into law, though with different stipulations of how it is implemented.
“We salute the courage of the Nigerian Senate for giving this nation a strong tool to revert growing deaths from tobacco products. Though, this has taken us so long, we are confident that this bill will save millions of our brothers and sisters from tobacco-related deaths,” he added.
The upper house had in a unanimous vote passed the bill which was sponsored by Senator Olorunimbe Mamora representing Lagos East Senatorial District.
The bill bans tobacco advertisement, sponsorship and promotions, selling cigarettes to persons under the age of 18, smoking it in public places which include airports, schools and public buildings, among others.
The bill domesticates the World Health Organisation (WHO) initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), a global standard for tobacco control which Nigeria has ratified.
The group commended Senator Mamora for resisting underhand lobbying by the tobacco companies to undermine the passage of the bill.
The National Tobacco Control Bill repeals the Tobacco Control smoking Act of 1990, which was promulgated under the military and championed by former Health Minister, late Olikoye Ransome Kuti.
The Bill’s essential components include:
* A National Tobacco Control (TC) Committee to guide implementation and future TC policies;
* A comprehensive ban of smoking in public places;
* Clearly visible tax stamps on cigarette packs;
* A ban on sales to minors and by minors;
* Prohibition of the sale of cigarettes that are not packaged – but the bill doesn’t specify the number per pack;
* A comprehensive ban on advertising, sponsorship and promotion, including by mail, testimonials, brand stretching, indirect advertising, etc;
* Health warnings covering 50 percent of the display area of tobacco packages, with the Minister of Health empowered to prescribe pictures or pictogram;
* Enforcement provisions to ensure that the law is effectively implemented.
Nigerian Senate passes Tobacco Control Bill, Framework Convention Alliance, 3/16/2011.
References: NGO lauds Senate over tobacco control bill, Adelanwa Bamgboye, dailytrust.com, 3/17/201; Senate passes tobacco bill, 234next.com, 3/15/2011; Group commends passage of tobacco bill, Posted by NIGERIA NATIONAL TOBACCO CONTROL BILL at 8:16 AM, nigerianationaltobaccocontrolbill.blogspot.com, 3/16/2011.
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