Nigeria - call to emulate Australia's move to ban the promotion of tobacco..

May 7, 2010 - The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the federal government to emulate Australia’s move to ban the promotion of tobacco.

The Australian government last week announced that by July 2012, all cigarettes sold in that country will have to be in plain packaging – meaning no tobacco industry logos, no brand imagery, no colours, and no promotional text other than brand and product names in a standard colour, position, font style and size. (Australia - tobacco tax increase now in force, next comes plain tobacco packaging.)

In a statement issued in Lagos, ERA/FoEN Programme Manager, Akinbode Oluwafemi said, “The Australian government’s move complements global efforts to curb the gale of deaths spurred by the deceptive promotional packs of the tobacco industry. It is highly commendable and timely in nipping the renewed efforts to woo underage persons into smoking through beautiful packs, colours and logos.”

“This enviable move by the Australian government should ginger our lawmakers to expedite action on the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) currently stagnating in the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. It is ironic that Nigeria which signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in 2004 and ratified in 2005 is still lagging behind and prevaricating on domesticating the FCTC in form of state and national laws,” Akinbode noted.

The National Tobacco Control Bill was sponsored by Deputy Minority Leader Senator Olorunnibe Mamoora and scaled the second reading in February 2009.

A public hearing on the bill was also held on July 20 and 21 last year by the Senate Committee on Health, Chaired by Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello.

The committee is expected to send the reports of the public hearing to the Senate plenary after which a vote will be taken on the bill. Senate President, David Mark had also hinted that the Senate will vote individually as against the usual practice of a voice vote.

Reference: ‘Emulate Australia in banning tobacco promotion’, written by Nasir Imam, Daily Trust, 5/6/2010.

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