Clinical Psychologist Calls for Policies to Reduce Tobacco Consumption

The federal government has launched a campaign against access to tobacco by young and underage people in order to secure the future wellbeing of Nigeria and its workforce.

The campaign was rolled out yesterday, in Lagos, by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (FMHSW) with the theme “Don’t Burn Our Future: tobacco makes our dreams go up in smoke.”

Delivering the keynote address at the launch of the campaign, the Acting Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Dr. Adamu Ahmed Abdullahi, stated that the campaign marked a pivotal moment in the commission’s commitment to safeguarding the future of the Nigerian youth and preserving the country’s economic vitality through promoting their health and wellbeing.

Abdullahi said: “We are set to embark on a journey of paramount importance—the inauguration of the “Don’t Burn Their Future” campaign. This is a remarkable and resolute effort by the FCCPC to tackle the escalating issue of young and underage access to tobacco products and its detrimental impact on our society. It is a campaign to guarantee the health of our youths and secure the future.”

He stated that “statistics paint a stark picture of a consistent rise in the number of young individuals succumbing to the clutches of tobacco addiction. This issue transcends mere health implications; it poses a substantial threat to our collective prosperity.

“We simply cannot turn a blind eye to the far-reaching consequences of this trend. It affects national social development, increases pressure on the health systems, reduces national productivity and negatively impacts overall national economic growth. The potential of our youth, the driving force of our nation’s progress, is being stunted by this preventable scourge.

“Early initiation into smoking increases the likelihood of developing a severe addiction to nicotine compared to those who start later in life.

“I stand before you today with a profound sense of duty and commitment to the well-being of our nation’s most valuable asset—our youth. Today, we find ourselves at a critical juncture where the choices we make will determine the future trajectory of countless young lives.

“The Federal Government of Nigeria supports this project 100 per cent. The government is steadfast in its commitment to curbing tobacco use and advancing tobacco control initiatives.

“The goal is clear, we seek a departure from the shadows of tobacco and a step toward a brighter, tobacco-free future for our youth. The journey may be arduous, but with your support, we can break the chains that bind our youth and ignite the flames of their dreams.”

The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Muhammad Ali Pate, who was represented by the Head, Tobacco Control Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Toma Malau, noted that tobacco was one of the biggest public health threats confronting Nigeria and the rest of the world today.

Pate, disclosed that Nigeria would conduct a second round of the global adult tobacco survey before the end of this quarter 2024 to gather household data for a national estimate the country’s tobacco consumption patterns.

He pointed out that youth consumption pattern was also becoming alarming as, “our younger ones are taking up the consumption of tobacco products, particularly the newer tobacco products that is often called the novel products, be it shisha, smokeless product like nicotine patches or electronic cigarettes.”

The minister also said the burden of tobacco on Nigeria’s healthcare system was put at N634 billion, which is quite large as the country spends three times higher in the management of health issues related to every dollar investment in tobacco business.

He added that tobacco also harm the Nigeria’s national sustainable development and environment right from its cultivation to manufacturing and finally to its waste disposal, and has been playing a huge impact in deforestation, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, water pollution and so forth.

Speaking during the launch of the campaign, the immediate past Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, said any effort that focuses on protecting the young people from needless disease is very important.

Irukera said: “I have never found one product in the entire world that if used as prescribed and intended by the manufacturer will likely result in injuries and perhaps death.”

The Chairperson of National Tobacco Control Committee, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, urged all tobacco control stakeholders in Nigeria “to remain committed, resolute and more united in the fight to ensure a tobacco free nation.”