Nigeria: Experts seek enforcement of tobacco regulations

Nigeria: Experts seek enforcement of tobacco regulations

Experts in the health and economic sectors have called for strict enforcement of tobacco regulations and inclusion of anti-smoking campaign in school curriculums to check rising cases of tobacco-related diseases, especially among youths.

They stated that the impact of mortality, morbidity and costs of smoking on the average Nigerian family still struggling to cross the poverty line was quite devastating, stressing that 16 per cent of deaths recorded annually was through tobacco-related diseases.

At the presentation of a two-year research study conducted by Centre for The Study of The Economies of Africa (CSEA) in collaboration with Amaka Chiwuike-Uba Foundation (ACUF) on the “Health burden and economic cost of smoking in Nigeria”, they wanted the government to wake up to its responsibility to save future generation from harmful effects of smoking.

A Consultant Radiologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Prof Ifeoma Okoye said the high rate of lung cancer cases among the young population was disturbing in the country.

Presenting the report of the study, Executive Director, CSEA, Dr. Chukwuma Onyekwena stated that Nigeria’s healthcare system spends about N526.45b yearly in treatment of smoking-attributable diseases, representing 9.63 per cent of the nation’s total healthcare budget.

He disclosed that from the research conducted, using also reports from various tertiary hospitals in the country, about 17 diseases are attributable to tobacco smoking. 

Onyekwena said an estimated 28,876 deaths yearly in Nigeria are attributable to smoking, representing about 16 per cent of deaths from smoking-related diseases, 183,883 and about five per cent of all cases of death.

He said among the diseases analysed, nearly 737,366 events are expected yearly, of which 127,859, representing 17 per cent are attributable to cigarette consumption.

He explained that the research was inspired by the fact that the CSEA was always engaged in relevant issues that would touch on policy-making.

The Founder and Chairman of ACUF, Dr. Chiwuike Uba said a lot of studies had been conducted, but not on the economic implications of tobacco-smoking in Nigeria.

He said their organisation would always take the campaign against smoking to all the nooks and crannies of the cities, as well as to the grassroots, where most of the young people who engage in smoking reside. 

Dr. Ifeanyi Godwin, who represented the Enugu State Commissioner for Health, called for the inclusion of an anti-smoking campaign in the school curriculum, as a way of discouraging the younger generations from smoking.