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Smoking: 29,000 Nigerians Killed Annually


Mr. Austin Iraoya, a research associate at the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, says that 29,000 Nigerians die to smoking every year. According to him, N526bn is spent annually by the Nigerian health system on tobacco-induced diseases.

On Monday, during a press briefing for the commemoration of World Tobacco Day, Mr. Iraoya said that, “Most of this money comes from out of pocket expenditure. This is a serious economic burden to Nigeria. Government makes only 10 per cent from tobacco taxes from this expenditure.”

Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, that smoking had been on the increase in Africa with Nigeria still importing tobacco leaves from around 44 countries, “In the manufacturing of cigarettes, tobacco companies are believed to contribute 84 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent to greenhouse gases. Disturbingly, because of stringent laws in the Global North, most of the tobacco corporations have relocated to low and middle-income countries like Nigeria.

He said that despite the ban that was given by the National Broadcasting Corporation, on Big Brother Naija show, a Pay-TV programme that is watched by both adults and children alike, “smoking among housemates is allowed and even promoted.”

Hilda Ochefu, the Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, urged for the government to enforce the law on Designated Smoke Areas. On the other hand, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling upon African governments to impose environmental tax levies on tobacco across the value and supply chains.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, made this call on Monday in her statement for the commemoration of this year’s World No Tobacco Day. She said that this should also include the production, processing, distribution, sales, consumption and waste management.

“The emergence of new products, such as electronic nicotine and tobacco products are also proving attractive to youths, compounding the concerns. With 44 of WHO African region’s 47 countries having ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which commits them to adopting effective and evidence-based measures to curb tobacco consumption, the need to address related environmental damage has seen WHO redouble its efforts to counter the overall threat.”

According to her, one of the environmental impacts of tobacco farming includes the massive use of water which is already a scarce resource across most of the continent along with large-scale deforestation and the contamination of our air and water systems.

She made notice that the cultivation of tobacco exposes farmers to several health risks, which include, “green tobacco sickness which is caused by nicotine absorbed through the skin during the handling of wet tobacco leaves as well as exposure to pesticides and tobacco dust.” She urged for countries in the region to accelerate the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which provides the necessary guidance to advance the creation of smoke-free environments, create programmes to support tobacco users to quit and support the application of excise tax and other financial countermeasures.