Senate seeks ban on sale of tobacco near schools

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja


The Nigerian Senate has urged the government to ensure the comprehensive prohibition of tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship,(TAPS) near schools.

It says the cigarette advertisement within and on windows, stores and kiosks, advertisement of flavoured tobacco and their logos or symbols should be stopped.

It particularly advised the Ministries of Health and Education at the federal and state levels to work together to ban advertisement at location of point of sales of tobacco products within 100m of all schools in the country.

These resolutions were as a result of a motion, titled: “The need to immediately ban tobacco companies from targeting school children in Nigeria.”

Implementation of the ban
In other resolutions the Senate also advised the Ministry of Health and other relevant enforcement agencies to urgently ensure a framework for the monitoring of the implementation of the ban on single sticks and cigarette packs with less than 20 sticks as detailed in the National Tobacco Control Act 2018.

The senate also called on the Ministry of Health to promote and advertise the “No sale of tobacco to minors” signage, and equally warned tobacco companies to henceforth stop tobacco adverts and sales within 100m away from all schools.

Sponsor of the Bill, Senator Olurenmi Tinubu said the senate was “worried that there is a deliberate ploy by tobacco companies to position tobacco adverts and signs within 100m of schools to stimulate children and youth into early interest in the use of tobacco products”.

She said the survey carried out by the Nigeria Tobacco Research Group in five states across four geo-political zones unearthed the location of tobacco products within visible distance of schools, with several being 100m or less away from schools.

“This is contrary to the framework convention on tobacco control and the National Tobacco Control Act, 2018 which is aimed at the prevention and subsequently reduction of accessibility of tobacco and tobacco products to young people, Senator Tinubu explained.

She lamented that tobacco consumption has been associated with lung cancer, myocardial infraction, chronic bronchitis, cardiovascular diseases and others, adding that “tobacco use is a cause of preventable death in the world; and it is projected that at least eight million deaths annually will be recorded as a result of tobacco use in 2030”.

Senator James Manager, who also contributed to the debate, said “the motion is very apt, because it is about children and they are vulnerable to the dangers of tobacco smoking”.

According to him, tobacco consumption is associated with dangerous diseases, including lung cancer, lamenting that people consume tobacco in different ways despite the warnings that smokers are liable to die young.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over Tuesday’s plenary, said it is regrettable that the Ministry of Health which should have taken preventive measures to save Nigerians, especially the underage, have been lacking in its responsibility on the tobacco issue.

He called for the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2018 which prohibits the sale of cigarettes to persons under age 18.

it also prohibits sale of cigarettes from a vending machine, sale of single sticks or packs of less than 20 sticks, prohibits advertisement, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products, bans smoking in schools and public places.

Confidence Okwuchi