The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday at plenary passed the first reading of a bill to control the use of tobacco. The bill is now set for second reading.
The bill is titled: An act to provide for the regulation and control of production, manufacturing, sale advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in Nigeria and for other related matters 2014.
The bill seeks to provide a legal framework for the regulation of manufacture, sales, advertising and production of tobacco products in Nigeria. It also seeks to monitor and control the usage of tobacco in the country.
The bill was sponsored by Ifeanyi Okowa representing Delta North of Delta State.
The Senate President, David Mark, said the purpose of the bill was to point out the dangers in smoking. He said there would be public hearings which would determine if tobacco would be banned totally.
“The bill seeks to tell you the dangers inherent in smoking.
“When we go to the public hearing, we would hear the public opinions on that,” Mr. Mark said.
Mr. Okowa in his speech said tobacco is a problem all over the world and called for a quick response.
“It is recognised that the spread of the tobacco epidemic is a global problem with serious consequences on public health that calls for the widest possible international cooperation and participation of all countries in an effective, appropriate and comprehensive response.
“I wish to state that there is no new agency or department being established by this legislation.
“There is already a desk unit in the federal ministry of health dealing with tobacco control.
“There is therefore no financial implication accompanying this bill,” he said.
There was a debate on whether the bill should be passed for second reading. Some lawmakers supported the outright ban of tobacco while some were against it.
Some of the lawmakers who supported the bill were Victor Ndoma-Egba, the Senate leader; James Manager, representing Delta South; and Ita Enang representing Akwa-Ibom North-East.
Mr. Ndoma-Egba said the bill had both the health and economic components.
Mr. Enang said Nigeria should take the bold step to ban tobacco totally for the safety of citizens.
After the votes of the lawmakers, the bill was passed for second reading.
The anti-tobacco bill is divided into thirty-seven sections and two schedules.
The first reading of the bill took place on October 3, 2012.
A motion was also passed on the non-submission of treaties, conventions, agreements or protocols by the Executive to the National Assembly for ratification.
The motion was sponsored by Ita Inang and co-sponsored by nine senators including Abdul Ningi, Victor Ndoma-Egba and others.
There have been sixty-nine treaties, conventions and protocols not forwarded to the National Assembly for ratification since August 2013.
Some of the treaties include Instrument of ratification of the amendment to the convention on the physical protection of nuclear material, Instrument of ratification of the convention on the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression, Instrument on adherence to the international union for conservation of
nature and natural resources World Conservation Union, WCN.
A committee was set up and Mr. Mark urged the committee to work with foreign affairs ministry.
He also said there was no need to worry about the delay as there could be reasons the treaties were signed and not ratified.