CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Tobacco: CSO tasks FG, security agencies on graphic warning enforcement

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

Addressing reporters on Wednesday in Abuja, the Executive Director, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that not much progress has been recorded in the implementation of the Tobacco Control Law to the detriment of the nation’s well being, especially of the youths.

Oluwafemi, who briefed reporters in company of Technical Resource Officer, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Michael Olaniyan; Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) Project Officer, Nwokorie Chibuikem; and Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Mrs. Hilda Ochefu, also emphasized on the need for taking the campaign and enforcement beyond Abuja and Lagos to the remaining 35 states of the federation.

According to him, the Ministry of Health, Police, Nigeria Securities and Civil Defence Corps, (NSCDC), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other relevant security agencies to intensify enforcement of the regulation.

The coalition said recent research carried out by the NTCA revealed that the level of non-compliance is high as 95 percent for dealers on snuff and other allied tobacco products, have not complied with the regulation at all, while 40 percent non-compliance was recorded on cigarettes.

“The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (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 Organization of Nigeria and others in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health must also play their statutory roles in the enforcement of this lifesaving policy” Oluwafemi said.

Other members of the coalition said that the policy was to commence on June 23rd, 2021, but unfortunately did not commence until November 23, 2021.

They said even at that, the first enforcement exercise did not happen until December 8, 2021.

“By virtue of the policy, graphic health warnings must henceforth be on the packs of tobacco products and must cover at least 50 percent 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 percent 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 percent 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 Organization under its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which Nigeria signed and ratified in 2004 and 2005 respectively,” they said.

Source: Daily Trust

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