The Nigerian Senate has urged the Federal Ministries of Health, Education and Information to harmonise efforts at banning the advertisement and sales of tobacco within 100 metres of all schools.
This resolution follows a motion by Oluremi Tinubu, Lagos-APC on Tuesday.
Other resolutions include that the Ministry of Health and other relevant enforcement agencies should ensure the “comprehensive prohibition of Tobacco Advertising Promotion and Sponsorship; work with other agencies to ban advertisement and location of Point of Sales (POS) of tobacco products within 100m of all schools; create a framework for the monitoring of the implementation of the ban on single sticks and cigarette packs with less than 20 sticks as detailed in the National Tobacco Control Act 2018.
The lawmakers also urged the Federal Ministry of Health to promote and advertise the ’No Sale of Tobacco to Minors’ Signage.”
Leading the motion, Mrs. Tinubu expressed worry at a deliberate act by tobacco companies to position adverts and signs within 100 metres of schools to stimulate children and youth into early interest in the use of tobacco products.
She referenced a survey carried out by Nigeria Tobacco Research Group in five states which identified location of tobacco products point of sales within visible distance of schools, with several being 100 metres or less away from schools.
She listed the schools to include; Kings Secondary School, Agbanni Road, Enugu 37m; Mother Care International Nursery and Primary School, Nasarawa 13m; Danbo College Challawa Road, Kaduna 12m; lqraah Primary School, Ode-Aje, lbadan 14m; Agidingbi Junior Grammar School, Lagos 20m; Herbert Macaulay Primary School, Yaba, Lagos 2m; and Aguda Community High School, Aguda-Surulere, Lagos 10m.
The lawmaker added that the development is contrary to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the National Tobacco Control Act, 2018 which is aimed at the prevention and substantial reduction of accessibility of tobacco and tobacco products to young people.
She said, “The senate notes also that annually, the tobacco epidemic is sustained by the addition of many youth to the population of smokers. Reports have shown that four out of every five adult smokers started smoking at age eighteen (18).
“The senate further notes that the display of tobacco and tobacco products alongside confectioneries purchased and consumed by children and adolescents may lead to exposure, experimentation and use;
“Reminded that Nigeria is a party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
“Further reminded that the National Tobacco Control Act which was assented to in 2018 prohibits the sale of cigarettes to persons under age 18, sale of cigarettes from a vending machine, sale of single sticks or packs of less than twenty (20) sticks, prohibits advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products, bans smoking in schools, health facilities, playgrounds and public places etc.”
Speaking on the motion, James Manager, Delta-PDP, said the control of tobacco consumption will be more effective if it was being started with the younger generation.
“If you ask them (smokers) Mr. President, they will tell you when and how they started it and that is why this motion is very apt. Children are very vulnerable, they can adapt, they can adopt anything they see. Once we target the young ones growing up and we get it right, then we can control and even minimise the consumption of tobacco.”
Abdulfatai Buhari, Oyo-APC, urged the federal government and law enforcement agencies to conform with the 21st century model of tobacco control.
He said, “One is amazed that at the 21st century, up till now in this part of the world there is still advert on tobacco. The saddest aspect of it is that something fundamental is really wrong with our security if tobacco advert is placed within the area and premises of school children. In the developed world, you are not even allowed to advertise or sell to minors. If that is the case, the law enforcement agents should try as much as possible to enforce our laws.”
Barau Jibrin, Kano-APC, commended the mover of the motion for doing the job which the Ministry of Health ought to have done.
“This is a worrisome development. A situation where the youth are targeted and they are very tactical in doing this. They know that we have a young population and the moment they are able to introduce tobacco smoking to this young people, their clients will increase and this is inimical to pur own development. The Ministry of Health and other agencies should have known this trend and tried to arrest it but they didn’t do it. The important thing is to call on Ministry of Health to live up to their duty in making sure that tobacco is not allowed to get introduced to our youths and limit the sales.”
In an additional motion, the lawmakers also urged the tobacco companies to stop advertisement and location of Point of Sales (POS) of tobacco products within 100 metres of all schools.
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