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Minister expresses worry over non-implementation of Tobacco Act



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The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has expressed worry over the increased rate of tobacco smoking in the country, calling for the immediate implementation and enforcement of key sections of the 2015 National Tobacco Control Act (NTC).
The Minister who made the called for ban on sales of cigarette to persons below 18 in the country at an event to mark ‘World No Tobacco Day’ said the Federal Government is set to begin implementation of 2015 National Tobacco Control Act.
National Daily gathered that some of the highlights of the act included a ban on sale of cigarettes in single sticks. Cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 sticks only. Smokeless tobacco shall be sold in minimum of a pack of 30g.
Another is the ban on sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet or other online devices. “Prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues. Prohibition of smoking anywhere on the premises of a child care facility, educational facility, and health care facility”.
Prof Adewole said other prohibited places for smoking include; playgrounds, amusement parks, plazas, public parks, stadium, public transports, restaurants, bars, or other public gathering spaces. “Prosecution of owner or manager of any of the places listed above, who permits, encourages or fails to stop smoking in the above listed places.
 “Prohibition of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind. Compliance with specified standard for content as set out by Standards Organisation of Nigeria”. He noted that available evidence from World Health Organization (WHO), show that tobacco use costs national economies immensely, through increased health-care cost and decrease productivity.
In addition, Adewole stressed “smoking worsens health inequalities and increase poverty as the poorest people spend less on essentials such as food, education and health care. Nigeria is currently exploring tobacco tax and levies as means of financing the Universal Health Coverage agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“Increasing taxes and levies on tobacco products can reduce its consumption and secondary generate revenue which can be used to finance universal health coverage and other developmental health programme.”