Civil society Organisations, CSOs working on tobacco control in Nigeria have called for firm enforcement of the National Tobacco Act (NTCA) which prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors and in single sticks.
They made the call on Saturday in Abuja at the public presentation of the Tobacco Sales Violation report, tagged, “Tobacco vs the People Report 2019”.
The report, which shows an increasing worrying level of Tobacco sales to minors (people under the age of 18) in Nigeria, however said that while majority of vendors support the ban of cigarettes and tobacco sales to minors, almost half of them (vendors) were unaware of the law banning the sale of tobacco to minors.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in a 2017 report, said that about 15.4 per cent of the Nigerian youth, male and female, use tobacco and tobacco related products.
To curb the menace, Nigeria, in 2015, signed the National Tobacco Act (NTC Act), which prohibits the sale of cigarette to minors and sale in single sticks.
The law prohibits sales to and by minors, and sale of cigarettes in single sticks and Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
The survey of the report, presented by Gatefield, in collaboration with the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) and National Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) was carried out in FCT, Ekiti, Katsina and Edo states.
The report showed that 89 percent of cigarette vendors in the states are unaware of the law banning cigarette sale in single sticks.
It also found out that a substantial percentage of the vendors (more than half) sell cigarette to minors.
A representative of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abraham Agboms, said the report came at a most appropriate time when Nigeria is focusing on the reduction of non-communicable diseases.
According to him, everyone needs to be an advocate of the smoke-free environment as the effect of the smoke is hazardous to health.
“The ministry is doing so much to see that tobacco use and sales are controlled to the barest minimum. We have a law, and unlike every other law, the regulation has to go back to the National Assembly before we can implement it. This is a drawback. But we are doing as much as we can, to fight tobacco sales especially to minors,” he said.
Also, the Sub regional Coordinator for West Africa, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Mrs. Hilda Ochefu, said the fight against tobacco, especially the sales to minors, must be won.