“Nigeria is planning a new tobacco bill that is believed to have stiffer anti tobacco laws”.
South Easterners in Nigeria are the highest consumers of tobacco, with about nine per cent of its adult population currently smoking, a Global Adult Tobacco Survey, GATS, released Thursday in Nigeria indicates.
Closely following the South East is the North Central – Middle Belt – where at least 8.5 per cent of its adult population is hooked on tobacco.
North West states, including Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto and Katsina, are the least smokers in Nigeria, with only three per cent of its adult population indulging in tobacco.
The North East, South-South and Southwest regions come between that range.
The survey, conducted in 2012, is Nigeria’s first official data documenting the prevalence and pattern of adult tobacco use in the country.
The survey polled 9,765 respondents across the 36 states of Nigeria – and the capital territory. The report was released by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The report establishes standard for discussions around tobacco issues in Nigeria. Until the GATS report, both the government and the civil society in Nigeria have relied on external estimates for policy and advocacy on tobacco.
“It shows how bad the tobacco pandemic is in Nigeria,” Bode Olufemi of Environmental Rights Actions, ERA, who contributed to the survey, said.
The report estimates that the bulk of Nigeria’s 4.5 million adult smokers are male. While 10 per cent of adult men in Nigeria consume tobacco, only 1.1 per cent of the women do.
The 4.5 million smoking adults exposes 27 million others to harmful second smoke, the report adds, with government buildings and restaurants the most likely places none-smokers get exposure to tobacco.
The survey also estimates that an average smoker in Nigeria spends N1, 202.5 on tobacco products monthly. On the whole, Nigerians spend an average of N7.45 billion on tobacco monthly, and N89.5 billion yearly.
While at least one in every five adults polled saw a cigarette advert outside stores and sporting events, two in five adults admitted noticing an anti tobacco warning on TV and radios.
Four out of every five adult polled believe tobacco causes serious illness, the report said.
The survey was conducted between May and September last year, in the peak of insecurity in Northern Nigeria, limiting the number of respondents in the region. But Yemi Kale, Nigeria’s Statistician General, said the insecurity was only a minor challenge.
“It didn’t affect the quality of the survey,” Mr. Kale said.
Nigeria, with its over 160 million population and weak tobacco legislation, combines its growing middle class population and corruption index to form a viable market for tobacco industries.
Nigeria is British American Tobacco’s most lucrative market in Africa. The company controls 84 per cent of local cigarette market.
In 2010, while markets in Turkey, Iran and South Africa declined, British American Tobacco – controlling 84 per cent of local cigarette market – declared a profit growth of £134 million to £858 million in its African and Middle East regions, driven largely by its Nigerian market.
Nigeria currently operates a 23-year-old tobacco control decree. The failed National Tobacco Control Bill 2009 is an upgrade of the Tobacco Control Act of 1990 and a replica of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Nigeria ratified the FCTC treaty in October 2005.
Anti-tobacco advocates argue that Nigeria needs to fully adopt the more comprehensive provision of FCTC. Nigeria is planning a new tobacco bill that is believed to have stiffer anti-tobacco laws.
“We will not negotiate with the tobacco industries anymore,” Nigeria’s Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, said at the survey release.
“What we want is a total halt of production,” he said in a political statement that suggests the new tobacco bill may indeed, have stringent regulation for tobacco production and usage.