Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has said that over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed in Nigeria yearly, and 4.5 million adults in the country currently use tobacco products.
This is as about 82 per cent of the entire population are exposed to second-hand smoke when visiting bars or nightclubs and 29.3 per cent (6.4 million) when visiting restaurants
The minister who disclosed this yesterday at the event to commemorate the 2018 World No-Tobacco Day in Abuja, stated that Nigeria is on its way to ratify the protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products as the memorandum on the protocol was approved by the Federal Executive Council on May 23, 2018.
He stated that the ministry is liaising with the Federal Ministry of Finance and other revenue authorities to establish an automated system for tracking and tracing of tobacco products with the sole aim of preventing revenue leakages and curtailing illicit trade in tobacco products.
Adewole, who noted that there are more than one billion smokers globally while more than seven million people are killed by tobacco yearly, said that of this, more than six million die from direct tobacco use, and close to 900,000 from exposure to second-hand smoke.
He disclosed that Nigeria is developing a comprehensive five-year National Tobacco Control Strategic Plan that will provide roadmap for complete tobacco control.
He said: “In addition to this, the FMOH participated actively in the review of the Nigeria Industrial Standard for tobacco products convened by Standards Organisation of Nigeria in collaboration with Consumer Protection Council (CPC). A key outcome of this review was the ban on all characterising flavours, including the addition of menthol into tobacco products. This decision is to protect our children from getting enticed by flavoured tobacco products.”
He, therefore, restated that the ban on tobacco products with characterising flavours is still in place and the ban includes Shisha because it has flavour and urged the CPC and the law enforcement agencies to intensify arrest of defaulters.
Adewole said tobacco use was responsible for huge economic losses emanating from both direct and indirect medical costs, adding that Nigeria loses $800 million yearly to stroke, heart disease and diabetes.