Group tasks FG on full implementation of NTCA 2015, NTCR 2019 laws

Laments tobacco industry’s interference in govt’s policies
Tobacco control advocates, under the auspices of the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), have urged the Federal Government to urgently commence full implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act (NTCA) 2015 and National Tobacco Control Regulations (NTCR) 2019 Act to stop the industry’s undue interference in government’s policies.

Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who gave the charge, yesterday, at the unveiling of the Nigeria Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2021 along with other African countries, lamented that in spite of legislations on tobacco control and Federal Government’s commitment to effective regulations, it still involved the industry in making critical decisions affecting the sector.

Besides, the group insisted that the Federal Government should provide adequate information on its dealings, interactions, economic incentives and benefits that the tobacco industry had been receiving from government from time to time and reject all non-binding agreements with the industry.

“Governments are often disadvantaged when they agree to co-operate with the tobacco industry. There should be no collaboration between governments and the tobacco industry. Synergy with the federal and state governments in putting in place processes for full disclosure of minutes and proceedings of meetings and interactions with the industry should be institutionalised.

“Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government should consistently update their websites and other information platforms for easy information dissemination and transparency. Awareness among civil servants on the need to protect public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry should be sustained,” Oluwafemi said.

He insisted that government officials in relevant MDAs must be made to sign conflict-of-interest forms periodically to remind them of commitments to obligations that may compromise the ethics of their offices and operations.

Oluwafemi also maintained that to effectively discourage the tobacco industry from constantly interfering in government policies and forcing their deadly products on Nigerians and Africans, especially the youths, governments should denormalise the so-called corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of the tobacco industry and reject all such activities, as they constitute some forms of promotion.

Speaking further, Director of Programmes at CAPPA, Philip Jakpor and other activists, likened Federal Government’s involvement of tobacco industry stakeholders in policy matters to inviting mosquitoes to a meeting where issues of finding solution to malaria cure would be discussed, stressing that, as long as government continues to do so, its efforts at effective control and regulation of tobacco industry activities would remain elusive.

The group stressed that sustained industry participation in control and regulation policy development, as well as industry’s CSR activities, would remain a major challenge to effective implementation of control and regulation, adding that unnecessary interaction and interference, benefits to the industry and issues of transparency, remain a major challenge in the industry.

He reminded the government, control advocate, public health experts, as well as users of tobacco products that as long as the tobacco Industry continues to interfere with government policies, the industry stakeholders would continue to produce, promote and sell their products, adding: “They are bent on making profits, while advocates were concerned with the health of Nigerians and Africans.”

Source: The Guardian