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The Federal Ministry of Health along with others enforced a tobacco control law in Abuja.

FG, MSH, Others Enforce Tobacco Control Law

The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) in partnership with the Nigeria Police Force and Management Sciences for Health (MSH) as well as other partners led an enforcement campaign to major supermarkets and lounges within Abuja to sensitize the workers on the dangers of tobacco use.

Areas visited by Mr. S B Gadzama, Director, Operations and Enforcement in NDLEA, and the Chairman of the taskforce committee were the Central Area of FCT, Wuse 2, and Wuse Zone 5 Abuja.

During this visit to Shop Rite shopping mall, Silver Bird Building, Zone 5 by Wadata Plaza, and H-Medix Wuse Zone 2, by Atiku Campaign office, off Diamond Bank junction some unauthorized and unlicensed products were removed from the shelves.

Facility managers and supermarket managers were duly sensitized on the burden and dangers of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke just as they were acquainted with the provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.

Unauthorized and unlicensed products like Cigars (Swisher Sweet Classic, Grapes Backwood authentic, Throwback Russian Cream) foreign Cigarettes (Davidoff Gold, Dunhill), e-cigarette/vape devices (Liteza Grand Quadberry Ice, Nano Disposable-Ice watermelon, Nija Snow watermelon and variety of Myle products), flavors (Bela Ciao, Khaleej Mint) and other shisha products were removed from the shelves of all supermarket visited

On the team were officers from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and other stakeholders include MSH, Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), Development Initiative for Society Health (DISH), and Cedars Refuge Foundation.

The officials maintained that effective implementation is urgent because tobacco kills up to half of its users translating into over 8 million people each year.

The Gadzama-led team, with the management of Silver Bird and representatives from other outlets that are involved in selling cigarettes, lamented the devastating effect of Tobacco in Nigeria.

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“Tobacco is responsible for more than 29,000 tobacco-related deaths per year. Tobacco also drives poverty and harms the environment. The tobacco industry continues to carry out aggressive tobacco advertisements, promotions, and sponsorship (TAPS) to increase demand for their products. It is no longer business as usual. The Federal Government is out to ensure adequate enforcement and compliance is carried out so that Nigerians can breathe fresh air. Tobacco is very addictive. The substance nicotine is an addictive drug, and this must be addressed urgently.”

He spoke on the use of “No Smoking” signage by Silver Bird since it is a public facility and advised the management to internally carry out enforcement to ensure better compliance both by workers and customers visiting the building.”

Mr. Gadzama advised that these unauthorized products should not be seen on the shelves again and stressed the knowledge of the NTC Act 2015, and regulations 2019, which provide for, among things, a ban on TAPS, smoke-free public places and workplaces, and implementation of graphic health warnings on tobacco packages.

Mr. Peter Unekwu-Ojo, the Project Specialist, at Tobacco Policy Action Fund for Africa with Management Sciences for Health also mentioned that a critical component of law enforcement and effective compliance with the law.

Justifying the measure, he noted: “Without knowledge of where and how the law is being violated, enforcement is not possible. The team is here to ensure that illegal advertising like point-of-sale displays and tobacco advertising sponsorship and promotions, and infringement of the graphic health warning label, tobacco packaging for appropriate warnings, and selling of unauthorized and unlicensed products in the country.

“The management of Silver Bird and other outlet representatives were made aware that tobacco remains the leading preventable risk factor of diseases and it causes serious morbidity and mortality.

“When tobacco is used as intended by its Manufacturers, it will kill up to half of its users. Architect Kingsley, a senior officer of Silver Bird, on behalf of the Management, promised that the facility would keep to the law and ensure proper compliance with the law.

“Enforcement will take effect upon any infringement of the graphic health warning label from November 21st, 2023. The new graphic health warning label which is a 50% size picture of mouth cancer which must be conspicuously displayed on every tobacco pack, should be seen on all shelves nationwide across all products.”

The Federal Ministry of Health along with others enforced a tobacco control law in Abuja.