UN, NHF urge stiffer sanctions, policies on illicit tobacco trade



10% of adult deaths linked to product consumption

As the world marked World Tobacco Day (May 31), the United Nations (UN) and Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) have called on the Federal Government and governments globally to enact stiffer laws against the product and show commitment in the implementation of the recently signed tobacco bill in the country.

They have also called for higher taxation on the products to hike up its prizes and make it unattractive and inaccessible for intending customers stating that it is currently estimate that 10 per cent of adult deaths worldwide and three percent in Africa is caused by the product.

Meanwhile, in his message to mark the day, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon called for the boosting of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to eradicate the illicit trade in cheaper tobacco products which he noted, tends to lure younger and poorer groups into addiction, while at the same time, depleting the ability of States to charge taxes that could support health services.

Moon noted that “by striking at the criminal gangs and tobacco companies that engage in this reprehensible trade, we will advance public health and sustainable development.’

Speaking yesterday at an event to mark the day held at the United Nations Information Office (UNIC), Ikoyi, Lagos State, with the theme, “Stop Illicit Trade of Tobacco products”, the Regional Director, WHO, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said that tobacco use remains the single most important preventable cause of death globally.

He disclosed that one in every 10 cigarettes and other tobacco products consumed worldwide is illegal, adding that this makes illicit trading of the product a major global concern from many perspectives ranging from health, legal, economic, governance and corruption.

Moeti who was represented by the Country Director, Sunday Abidoye pointed out that smuggling; counterfeiting and evasion of local tax on tobacco items have made the product easy to access and affordable, particularly for the young ones to try it out.

However commending efforts by some African countries in checkmating illicit and cross-border trade of the products, Abidoye said that the harm the continued trading is causing both health and economic-wise is becoming devastating.

He then called on policy makers and individuals alike to rise up to this challenge and help in reducing tobacco-related illnesses and premature death.

Meanwhile, the Director on Tobacco, NHF, Mr. Dapo Rotifa who noted that the goal of the campaign is to achieve a 24-hour period of abstinence of all forms of tobacco use across the globe through drawing of global attention to its negative effects, stated that if no action is taking, the disease which statistics has shown to kill six million people yearly will end up killing 8 million by 2030.

The Executive Director, NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye called for a proper implementation of the tobacco bill for effective regulation of the products.

The Cardiovascular Health Physician called on the new administration to impose high tax on tobacco products and cause a hike in its prices; and by so doing get it beyond the reach of the high risk consumers who are the youths.

While thanking the previous administration of Jonathan and five other states for signing the anti-tobacco bill into law, he called on the consumers to consider their health and cease from the indulging in the act.

“Do not kill yourself. The government has said that ‘I have a responsibility to protect you’, you cannot just kill yourself.

And not only now because of awareness in research that even when you smoke alone, you are also endangering the life of your family and the people around you. So, people should be able to get up to their responsibility; government is being responsible and they have shown that they are responsible.

“So people should also be responsible and know that they should protect their own lives and that of the people around them.”

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