World No Tobacco Day: CSO coalition tasks FG on implementing laws

World No Tobacco Day: CSO coalition tasks FG on implementing laws

  • Says Nigerians need food, not tobacco
  • Says 3.5 hectares of land are used for tobacco farming globally
  • Says health Challenges imminent in Sokoto, Osun, Kwara states

As Nigeria joins other countries across the world to mark World No Tobacco Day, a coalition of Civil Society Organizations under the guise of the Tobacco Control Alliance has Tasked the Federal Government of Nigeria with the need for proper policy in place to regulate the activities of Tobacco farmers.

This call was made Thursday, in Abuja by the Chairman of the group, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, during a press conference used to usher in the 2023 edition of the enlightenment campaign.

According to Mr Akinbode, ‘World No Tobacco Day’, is usually marked on the 31st of May, every year and is practically set aside by the World Health Organization to raise awareness of the deadly effects of tobacco use. With over 8 million people dying from tobacco consumption worldwide.

He said that the commemoration is a solemn event targeted at bringing to the fore, millions of lives lost to tobacco use and the many people around the world managing debilitating ailments brought on by tobacco use.

“We Need Food, Not Tobacco”, the theme for this year’s commemoration, draws the attention of the world to the dangers of tobacco farming. The World Health Organization estimates that 3.5 million hectares of land are used for tobacco farming globally as against food farming.”

The Coalition Chairman, further observed that in characteristic fashion, the tobacco industry paints a picture of economic prosperity among tobacco farmers, however, in reality, argued that tobacco farmers are poor. “In Nigeria, farmers who have invested many years growing tobacco continue to live in poverty,” it said.

Meanwhile, the coalition has reassured media industries as well as the National Orientation Agency NOA, to join the enlightenment campaign against uncontrolled tobacco cultivation in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general. It said that Tobacco cultivation has declined in the developed world in recent years but on the contrary has picked up in low-income countries in Africa, majorly in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.

“In Nigeria, tobacco cultivation occurs primarily in Kwara, Osun, Oyo and Sokoto states. During tobacco cultivation and curing, wet tobacco leaves produce nicotine and other toxins that are absorbed into the body. This causes green tobacco sickness among farmers. Tobacco growers are also known to suffer from respiratory and neurological disorders due to exposure to tobacco leaves. According to the United Nations, over 25 million people in Nigeria are facing hunger, and globally, that figure stands at over 300 million people. In the face of this looming food insecurity, large portions of arable lands are turning into barren wastelands from tobacco cultivation.

“Article 17 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control encourages parties to promote economically viable and sustainable alternatives to tobacco farmers. In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is responsible for championing this objective. However, it is unclear how much land is used for tobacco farming in Nigeria. This critical data gap makes it difficult to identify and plan interventions for tobacco farmers.

“We, therefore, call on the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to make known the extent of tobacco farming in Nigeria. It is also important that the Ministry rolls out plans to help tobacco farmers transition to nutritious and healthy crops such as maize, cassava, guinea corn and even livestock.

“We note that very little can be achieved if every government agency works in a silo, and poor coordination among agencies is a recipe for poor public health. Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Health, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, and all agencies saddled with the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act must synergize, share information and resources and work cohesively for the implementation of these laws”.

Mr Akinbode, calls on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to add tobacco control measures as one of his priorities energy towards youths empowerment.

In line with the past efforts of his predecessors in passing into law, the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. Also achieved is the National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019, during Former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Source: Sun News Online