People who smoke in non-smoking areas would pay N50,000 or six months imprisonment.
The Federal Government has proposed N50,000 fine for anyone who smokes in non-smoking designated areas in Nigeria. In the alternative, such people could face six months imprisonment; or both fine and imprisonment.
This is contained in the new Tobacco Control Bill 2014, which was approved by the Executive Council of the Federation, FEC, on Wednesday.
The bill also proposes that companies that violate the eventual law be fined N1 to N5 million, while their chief executives may also be imprisoned for one to two years.
The content of the bill was disclosed by the Minister of Heath, Onyebuchi Chukwu, who briefed journalists at the end of the FEC meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mr. Chukwu said the Draft Tobacco Control Bill, 2014 will be forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and passage.
“Now the areas that are being targeted include the environment. We want to produce 100 per cent tobacco free environment for people (who) do not want anything to do with tobacco use.
“And so places will be clearly designated whether public places, whether indoor, or outdoor will be clearly designated as non smoking area.”
“The responsibility, say for instance, a hotel, rest on the owners of the hotel to clearly indicate the areas that are non smoking so that if you ever decide to go to a place that has been clearly designated non smoking area, you will be liable to being prosecuted and then the law will take its course. The same thing with mode of transportation- land, railway, sea, air, they are all covered,” he said.
The minister said the bill totally bans advertisement by tobacco companies.
“Another area is advertisement. Advertisement is totally banned under this law so you cannot just go and advertise. Some states have already taken the lead like Cross River State, which passed its own law on advertisement of tobacco last year. Now we want to make it national.
“Any form of advertisement is not permitted, either in broadcast, print, outdoor.
“The bill is also looking at packaging, 50 per cent of the package should be to warn people about the use of tobacco, the first country to start that was Australia, although it was taken to court, the government of Australia won,” he said
Mr. Chukwu also noted that surveys carried out in 2008 showed that tobacco consumption is on the rise in Nigeria.
“Nigeria conducted the global youth tobacco survey and the youth that were surveyed were between the ages of 13 to 15 and in that survey, it clearly showed that 15 per cent of our children between the ages of 13 and 15 years were already smokers and 55 per cent of our children between the ages of 13 and 15 were exposed as passive smokers.
“In 2012 survey, even among adults, 10 per cent of men smoke in Nigeria, one out of every ten Nigerian male adult smokes. Among the women, it is 1.1 per cent. If you combine it in term of men and women, almost six per cent of all adults in Nigeria smoke or use tobacco products apart from 20 per cent of those who did not smoke but exposed as passive smokers.”
Mr. Chukwu said the draft bill would not be the first by the Nigerian government to curtail tobacco consumption.
“This is not the first attempt in Nigeria to control the use of tobacco in this country. In 1990 we had a decree which tried to place some control on the sale and use of tobacco products and in 2001, it was repealed and re/enacted to become the National Tobacco Control Act of 2001; the whole idea is to make it even stiffer.
“But when in 2004, Nigeria along with other nations of the world signed the 2004 WHO framework convention on tobacco control, there was then the need to bring our laws in conformity because we actually as a country ratified that convention the next year, which was 2005. And so that attempt by the Executive eventually culminated in the passage of a revised or amended Act as it were in 2011 by the sixth session of the National Assembly.”
The health minister said the proposed bill is to reduce the harm done to Nigerians by tobacco.
“The bill is to protect Nigerians against the harmful effects of tobacco. We know that tobacco is dangerous, tobacco is the cause of many deaths, causes so many illnesses. There are four main non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory disorder and diabetics. Tobacco alone causes three out of these four illnesses.
“Tobacco causes cardiovascular diseases, it has been known to cause heart attacks, hypertension and stroke. Tobacco indeed causes cancer, cancer of various organs especially cancer of the lungs, tobacco is the cause for chronic respiratory disease.
He said the bill also provides for a fund to be known as the Tobacco Control Fund to be funded by the federal and state governments, as well as individuals.
He added that a national committee made up of the health ministry, justice ministry, customs, and all the major stakeholders will be put in place to monitor developments and also ensure that the fund is well managed.
A similar bill, largely put together by concerned civil society organisations is currently before the National Assembly.
While smoking has increased in Nigeria, a PREMIUM TIMES investigation also showed that illegal importation and consumption of contraband cigarette is also on the rise.
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