Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Nigerian government has suggested “better” ways to fight and defeat the menace of tobacco consumption among Nigerians, even as it consider an outright ban of the product.
It said that apart from significant tax increase in tobacco products and other alcoholic drinks, which took effect on Monday, it is considering stiffer measures that would make the products unreachable and unaffordable for certain categories of Nigerians.
Health Minister Prof. Issac Adewole told journalists in Abuja on Monday, at an event to mark the 2018 World No Tobacco Day, that it is mulling tax on each stick of cigarette as against a packet of 20 sticks, in addition to other measures that would soon come into effect.
This, he believes, will discourage younger Nigerians from accessing the product.
“Many say that professors and other learned people consume tobacco but that should not be an excuse. Tobacco is addictive and it is advisable not to start consumption because it will be extremely difficult to stop,” the Health Minister said.
He highlighted a World Health Organisation (WHO) report which indicated that cancer, diabetes and other chronic respiratory diseases killed 38 million out of 56 million deaths recorded globally in 2014, and more than 40 percent of the deaths were below 70 years.
“Notwithstanding, we will continue to smoke tobacco until we are dead. Most worrisome now is that it comes in different flavours, some named Shisha. They are very harmful to the health,” the professor insisted.
Meanwhile, the Director General, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Babatunde Irukera, in his remarks, said the agency is working in synergy with other agencies to either ban the product outrightly or approve stiffer sanctions that would discourage more people from accessing it.
“Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), convened a technical committee meeting recently and the issue of ‘Shisha’ was extensively discussed like every other tobacco product.
“The new National Industrial Standards (NIS),documents are undergoing some review. It is after then that we will make definite pronouncement on ban or otherwise of these products. But until then, the products are accessible for public consumption,” he said.