Stories by Ajuma Edwina Ogiri
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed in Nigeria annually.
Quoting Nigeria’s 2012 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), he said 4.5 million currently use tobacco products, out of which 4.1 million are men and 0.5 million women.
Prof. Adewole further said that 6.4 million of adults are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke when visiting restaurants, hotels and other public settings.
The Minister, stated this at a press briefing to commemorate the 2017 World No Tobacco Day, with the theme:“Tobacco a threat to Development”, yesterday in Abuja.
According to the minister, Increasing taxes and levies on tobacco products can reduce its consumption, and secondarily generate revenue which can be used to finance universal health coverage and other developmental health programs.
“This can also help break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and combat climate change.
“Facts from WHO showed that tobacco use costs national economies immensely, this is through increased health-care costs and decreased productivity. It also worsens health inequalities and exacerbates poverty, as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care.
“Tobacco is the only legal drug that kills many of its users when used exactly as intended by manufacturers.
WHO has estimated that tobacco use is currently responsible for the death of about 7 million people annually across the world, with 80% of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries like Nigeria.
“This includes about 600,000 people who are also estimated to die from the effects of second-hand smoke. Many of these deaths occur prematurely. Although often associated with ill-health, disability and death from chronic non-communicable diseases, tobacco use is also associated with an increased risk of death from communicable diseases.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre ( CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa, called on the federal government to raise its response mechanisms, especially within the framework of the law to ensure that provisions such as graphic health warnings and increased taxation are effectively implemented.
He also called on the ban of sale of cigarettes in single sticks and to minors amongst other commendable provisions.