BATN wants to build its head office in Lagos.
In a statement released on Thursday, the group urged Babatunde Fashola, the Lagos State Governor, to reject the new investment of the tobacco industry.
“It is unacceptable that British American Tobacco Nigeria should be discussing how to make additional investments in Nigeria despite the fact that its $150 million cigarette manufacturing factory in Ibadan has brought nothing but death and poverty to Nigeria,” said the statement signed by Nurudeen Ogbara, NTCA’s chairman.
“We reject in its entirety, the proposal to build another headquarters for the tobacco industry in Lagos,” the statement added.
During a courtesy visit to Mr. Fashola, last Monday, Keith Gretton, the Managing Director of BATN, had noted that the organization was constructing its headquarters in Lagos as part of its long term commitment to Nigeria.
Mr. Gretton also stated that BATN remits about N15 billion in taxes annually to the Nigerian government.
The NTCA faulted Mr. Gretton’s claims, noting that Nigeria pays more in healthcare costs for people affected by tobacco smoking.
“It is absolute falsehood for the tobacco industry to claim that it pays taxes,” the group said.
“No corporation pays taxes, it only collects the taxes on behalf of the government and if Nigerians don’t buy tobacco they will still pay the taxes through other means.”
The group further stated that the proposed investment by the tobacco industry was to discourage and interfere in the proposed tobacco control bill which is currently before the Lagos State House of Assembly, asking the lawmakers to expedite action on the bill for the good of Lagosians.
“We call on the government to fulfil its mandate of ensuring the best quality of health for the residents by protecting the tobacco bill from industry interference. Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control forbids this interference.
“We call on the government to put the health of the people before the profits of multinational corporations,” the group said.
The statement noted that Lagos has been at the receiving end of the deaths and sicknesses associated with the tobacco use in Nigeria.
According to the group, a study in eleven General Hospitals in Lagos in 2006 revealed that two persons die every day from a tobacco related disease.
“Lagos is where the tobacco companies organize secret smoking parties to addict the youths; this is where all the illegal marketing and promotion occur.
“Lagos has been at the receiving end of tobacco industry activities resulting in massive deaths of Lagosians and the government spent N216, 000 to treat each of the 9,000 cases recorded in 2006. Governor Fashola must reject this new investment,” the group said.
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