Nigeria showcases tobacco control progress.
- Seeks global collaboration on the tobacco industry’s interference in public health policy.
Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has urged the global community to promote policies and international cooperation that will protect public health policies from commercial interests of tobacco companies.
Ehanire, who spoke at the ongoing Eight Conference of Parties of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) holding in Geneva, Switzerland, disclosed that Nigerian has in the past few years made significant progress in tobacco control.
“Through multi-sectoral engagements involving government and civil society organizations, the Nigerian government has begun mass awareness campaigns on provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015, to create the enabling environment for enforcement.
“Nigeria is strongly desirous of protecting its citizens, particularly the youths, from reckless access to tobacco products. We, therefore, adopted the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) directive on harmonization of excise duty on tobacco products in the Member States, and revised excise tax regime on tobacco products from 16 percent to 23.2 percent.
This is to be further reviewed upwards over the next two years, as we work with our regional ECOWAS block, towards meeting the WHO recommended excise tax level corresponding to 70% of retail price of tobacco products.
“The Nigerian government has reviewed the Standards for Cigarettes to include the complete ban on cigarettes with characterizing flavor, including menthol. Nigeria ratified the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The instrument of accession will be finalized and deposited at the UN Headquarters imminently”.
On concerns that tobacco multinationals are conducting covert activities to undermine tobacco control activities across the African region, the minister disclosed that Nigeria is strongly committed to the sanctity its tobacco control policies.
“I am pleased to announce that every member of the Nigerian delegation at this COP8 meeting signed the Declaration of Conflict of Interest (DOI) form, which shall be made available to the COP Secretariat. This is to be Nigeria’s practice for all subsequent COPs,” the minister said.
The minister who also spoke on the linkage between tobacco control and climate change explained that tobacco growing leads to deforestation due to land clearing, cutting of trees for curing of tobacco leaves, contamination due to extensive pesticide use, among other factors. He invited collaboration with the international community in promoting a sustainable environment against the negative impacts of tobacco farming.
Following from the ministers’ speech, the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) which is a global alliance of NGOs working to achieve the strongest possible FCTC has awarded Nigeria the orchid award for making a strong statement on its intent to fully implement the FCTC, including its support for the Global Strategy and transparency of delegations, among others.
The treaty talks end on October 6, 2018.