Group commends Lagos Assembly for passing bill on smoke-free public places

Cigarette smoking
A tobacco smoker used to illustrate the story.

The Lagos legislature passed the bill on Monday.

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, has commended the Lagos State House of Assembly for the passage of the bill prohibiting smoking in public places.

The Lagos legislature had, on Monday, passed the bill after it scaled through the third reading.

In a statement in Lagos, Wednesday, ERA/FoEN described the bill as ” timely and life-saving,” adding that it represents a bold step for other states of the federation to emulate.

“This is a good start. Our robust and sustained engagement with the Lagos State House of Assembly and the Ministry of Health to get the bill passed has paid off well,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Director, Corporate Accountability and Administration, ERA/FoEN.

“It is our strong conviction that passing the bill is a major step towards finally putting in place a comprehensive law that prioritises public health over illicit profits,” he added.

The bill, which now requires the assent of Governor Babatunde Fashola before it becomes law, prohibits anybody from smoking in all public places including libraries, museum, public toilets, schools, hospital, day care centres, public transportation and restaurants, among others.

It stipulates penalties for smoking in a “no-smoking area” to be N10,000 fine or imprisonment for a term not less than one month and not exceeding three months or both.

Furthermore, under the law, any person who repeatedly violates the provisions shall on conviction be liable to a fine of N50,000 or six-month imprisonment or both; while any person, who smokes in the presence of a child shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N15,000 or imprisonment for a month or both.

It is also illegal for individuals under the age of 18 to buy or sell cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“This development is particularly heart-warming to Lagosians whose children have been the target of British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN) through subtle marketing and secret smoking parties,” Mr. Oluwafemi continued.

“It is our firm belief that when Governor Fashola appends his signature, the law will check the clandestine attempt by BATN to make Lagos the corporate headquarters of its deadly merchandise,” he added.

Mr. Oluwafemi called on the National Assembly to take a cue from the Lagos State House of Assembly by passing the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) into law to ensure uniform laws that will nip the gale of deaths that tobacco products have unleashed on Nigerians.

“We are in solidarity with the Lagos House of Assembly in urging Governor Fashola to quickly assent to this life-saving bill.

“The House must also halt BATN plans to build its four million Pounds headquarters in Lagos. Lagosians totally reject this Greek gift which will only bring death and destruction,” Mr. Oluwafemi added.

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