The Center for Communication Programs Nigeria (CCPN) has called for effective health policies that would reduce the use of tobacco products in Nigeria.
The group noted that unrestricted use and access to tobacco products is a threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
In a message to mark this year’s World Health Organisation (WHO) World No tobacco Day (WNTD), Babafunke Fagbemi, the executive director CCPN, said tobacco use is a threat to Nigeria’s development and a great health risk that affect other sectors and the economic well-being of Nigerians.
Speaking in Abuja, Fagbemi urged the federal government to immediately implement public health measures that would protect Nigerians from the dangers of smoking including the comprehensive implementation of the National Tobacco Control Bill.
While commending the federal ministry of health under the leadership of Isaac Adewole for taking the lead in the fight against non-communicable diseases in the country, Fagbemi said the government’s bold step in signing the National Tobacco Control Bill into law is a major step towards achieving a tobacco free Nigeria.
“We want to commend the Federal Ministry of Health for putting public health in the front burner and we hope that all stakeholders would rally round to support the initiatives of the Ministry in taking tobacco control forward from where we are today,” she said.
According to the WHO, tobacco kills over seven million people every year and it is a risk factor in non-communicable (NCDs), including cardiovascular disease, cancers and chronic obstructed pulmonary disease.
“We need to take a holistic look at our public health structure and take adequate measures to prevent diseases that will hinder the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“The WHO has made it clear about the dangers of tobacco use not only to the smoker but others around. Tobacco control is a great step towards the fulfillment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
“We need to look at the dangers of second hand smoking especially to the young children, Nigeria is already battling to eradicate malaria which is one of the greatest killer diseases of young children in Nigeria, we must ensure that we do not add to the burden of Nigerians bynot taking action against tobacco use,” Fagbemi said.
Fagbemi also said the core role of communication in promoting awareness and well-being should not be overlooked as she called on all stakeholders to articulate the process of creating awareness on the dangers of tobacco use especially to the youths.
The theme for this year’s WNTD is “Tobacco: A threat to Development” and it is aimed at highlighting the link between tobacco use and development.
The celebration is also to highlight the fact that tobacco control can break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and combat climate change.
The CCPN, a non-governmental organisation that focuses on the central role of communication in social and behavior change for development, also said it is ready to continue to provide the platforms that would ensure the well-being of all Nigerians.