CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

CAPPA Tasks Health Ministry, Law Enforcement Agencies On Tobacco Graphic Warning Enforcement

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Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) on Wednesday called on the Health Ministry, and all relevant law enforcement agencies in the country to intensify enforcement of graphic health warnings on tobacco products.

The group said recent research carried out by Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance revealed that the level of non-compliance is high with 95 per cent of dealers on snuff having not complied with the regulation at all, while 40 per cent non-compliance was recorded on cigarettes.

Addressing journalists at a press conference in Abuja, Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, therefore called on the Ministry of Health, Police, Nigeria Securities and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC) and other relevant security agencies to intensify enforcement of the new regulation.

L-R: Michael Olaniyan, Technical Officer of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Akinbode Oluwafemi, ED of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Hilda Ochefu, Subregional Coordinator, West Africa, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), and Chibuike Nwokorie, Project officer, Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA).

Oluwafemi, who briefed members of the press in company of Michael Olaniyan, Technical Resource Officer, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, (CTFK), Nwokorie Chibuikem, Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance Project Officer, and Hilda Ochefu, Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also emphasized the need for taking the campaign and enforcement to the 36 states of the federation.

“The FCCPC enforcement of the Graphic Health Warnings policy is commendable but with only Abuja and Lagos visited out of Nigeria’s 36 states, the exercise is still limited and should be simultaneous in other states of the federation.

“Tobacco manufacturers who do not comply with the new directive on Graphic Health Warnings should be sanctioned as stated in Section 24 (2) of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015. They should also be compelled to recall all products without the graphic health warnings still with retailers and replace them with products that are with graphic health warnings on them.

“There is a need for sustained awareness creation and sensitization of retailers and wholesalers on the new policy and its effect on public health.

“There is a need for continued education and inter-agency collaboration on enforcement of the policy. The FCCPC has been at the fore of enforcement thus far. Other agencies of government like Standards Organisation of Nigeria etc. in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health must also play their statutory roles in the enforcement of this lifesaving policy” he said.

The CAPPA boss recalled that the policy was to commence on June 23rd, 2021, but unfortunately did not kick off until November 23, 2021, adding even at that, the first enforcement exercise did not happen until December 8, 2021.

According to him, by virtue of the policy, graphic health warnings must henceforth be on the packs of tobacco products and must cover at least 50% of the front and back of the tobacco product package.

“A text-only health warning must also be displayed on one of the lateral sides of the package. For cigarette cartons, text-only warnings are required to cover 50% of the front and back surfaces. The size of the warnings will be rotated at least every 24 months and will be increased to 60% in June 2024. The new requirement replaces the former warning, which only required manufacturers to inscribe the message: “The Federal Ministry of Health warns that smokers are liable to die young”.

“It is important to note that graphic health warnings were recommended by the World Health Organisation under its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which Nigeria signed and ratified in 2004 and 2005 respectively. The WHO has established that graphic health warnings on tobacco products are more effective than text warnings for communicating the risk of smoking as it can prevent adolescents from initiating smoking” he added.

Source: Independent

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