The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has said that Tobacco control regulatory agencies would soon be given more powers to enforce laws to protect Nigerians from exposure to second-hand smoke and other related issues.
Dogara revealed this while speaking at the opening of an interactive session on a draft bill on National Tobacco Control Regulations organised by the House Committee on Delegated Legislation at the National Assembly.
The speaker said that data showed that while over 17,000 people are said to be killed by tobacco-caused diseases, more than 370 children and over four million adults continue to use tobacco each day.
According to the parliamentarian, a report published by the Environmental Rights Action group estimates that the Nigerian government spends as much as 591 million dollard yearly on treatment of diseases resulting from tobacco consumption in the country.
Dogara noted that other areas that the law seeks to regulate included manufacturing, packaging and labeling or tobacco.
He said that advertisement, promotion, sales as well as interaction between government and the tobacco industry would be reviewed.
H said: “It is note-worthy that the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, has widened the areas where tobacco smoking is prohibited in Nigeria.
“This is in furtherance of the right of every person to a clean and healthy environment and the right to be protected from exposure to second-hand smoke.
“The areas that have now been designated as no-smoking areas are contained in the Second Schedule of the Act.”
Dogara explained that while the law on tobacco control had been in existence since 2015, its implementation has been impossible because its regulatory documents have not been approved by the legislature.
He, however, said that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Thursday, December 29, 2018, transmitted the draft National Tobacco Control Regulations, in pursuant to section 39 (1) of the Act, requiring the approval of the National Assembly.
In the light of this, Dogara said that the house intends to give speedy approval so as ensure the full implementation of the Act.
The speaker said tobacco control was being taken seriously because many countries in the world have implemented control measures on the product and Nigeria was no exception.
According to the lawmaker, Nigeria, as a notable tobacco market and influential country in Africa, ratified the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005.
He explained that the aim was to ensure that tobacco product control policies of State Parties are implemented over and above the commercial and other interests of the tobacco industry.