Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole has announced the immediate implementation and enforcement of key sections of the World Health Organization ( WHO) Framework Convention Tobacco Control, which include the prohibition of sale of tobacco products to persons below 18 years.
Making the announcement on 31 May 2017 to commemorate the 2017 World No Tobacco Day in Abuja, the minister also declared the ban of sale of cigarettes in single sticks, adding that smokeless tobacco will henceforth be sold in a minimum pack of 30 grams.
Professor Adewole noted that available evidence from WHO shows that tobacco use costs national economies immensely, through increased health-care cost and decrease productivity, adding that it worsens health inequalities and increase poverty as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care.
”Increasing taxes and levies on tobacco products can reduce its consumption and secondly generate revenue which can be used to finance universal health coverage and other developmental health programme,” he added.
In his goodwill message, the WHO country Representative Dr Wondimagegnehu Alemu, congratulated Nigeria for the bold steps taken to curb tobacco use, which he noted as one of the leading predisposing factors for non-communicable diseases in the country. He cited the report from a Global Adult Tobacco Survey conducted in 2013 which revealed that at least 5.6 million adult Nigerians smoke tobacco.
Dr Alemu stated that tobacco control will fast-track attainment of goals 3 & 4 enshrined in the Sustainable Development Agenda for achieving one-third global reduction of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases.
He stressed that WHO would provide the required technical support to FMOH for effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act so that Nigeria will be a global example of countries where tobacco control has been successful.