The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) have asked the leadership of the national assembly to speedily pass the national tobacco control regulations.
In a statement co-signed by Akinbode Oluwafemi, deputy executive director of ERA/FoEN, and Oluseun Esan, alliance coordinator of NTCA, the groups pleaded with Bukola Saraki, senate president, and Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, “to repel clandestine activities” of the tobacco industry to water-down the draft regulations.
“We have been monitoring the processes after the adoption of the draft Regulations on the floor of the House of Representatives and are shocked by the delay in transmitting the draft Regulations to the Senate for concurrence,” the groups said.
“Equally worrying are reports that the draft Regulations being sent to the Senate are being doctored to exclude some key provisions as approved on the floor of the House of Representatives and reflected in the record of the Votes and Proceedings.
“To us, the tobacco industry is striking again. Proper due process was followed and respected all along, and all parties were duly consulted but we know the tobacco industry will always act in bad faith to compromise any law aimed at reducing smoking and its attendant harms and economic costs.
“The National Assembly must once and for all, draw the line and side with the health of Nigerians as well as protect them from an industry that is killing 16,100 Nigerians every year.”
The groups also urged the 8th national assembly to see the draft regulations as a public health legacy it would leave behind and speedily pass it for enforcement.
“The eighth National Assembly is at a critical period and we have seen the wave of bills that were given expedited passage. We wonder why the Tobacco Control Regulations have not enjoyed similar treatment,” they wrote.
“Our plea is that the Senate President and the Speaker of the House Representatives step into this issue personally and stand with the public good. Nigerians are watching and indeed the global public health community is also watching to see how the eighth National Assembly treats this very important issue.
“We restate our confidence that the leadership will do the needful by approving strong Regulations as approved on the floor of the House of Representatives; that is the Public Health legacy Nigerians need from Senator Saraki and Honourable Dogara.”
The national tobacco control (NTC) act regulates the manufacturing, advertising, distribution and consumption of tobacco products in Nigeria.
The draft regulations were signed into law during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
However, some of the provisions of the law were un-enforceable and needed to be reviewed by the ministry of health, after which it must be approved by the national assembly before they can be enforced.
The draft regulations developed by the ministry of health were approved by the federal executive council in June 2018 and subsequently transmitted to the national assembly in January 2019 for approval.