World No Tobacco Day –National Assembly approves regulations on tobacco control

Abuja, 31 May 2019- As Nigeria joins the world to commemorate the 2019 World No Tobacco Day with the theme, “Tobacco and Lung Health: don’t let Tobacco take your breath away”, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) today announced the recent passage of the 2018 National Tobacco Regulations by the National Assembly. The passage of the regulations will ensure effective implementation of the 2015 National Tobacco Control Act.

As part of activities to mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day, an inter-agency press briefing was convened. During the briefing, the Permanent Secretary (PS) of FMoH, Alhaji Abdulaziz Mashi Abdullahi described Tobacco as a product that contains more than 7,000 chemicals, of which 250 of which are harmful to the human body and 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

“In Nigeria, at least 16,100 Nigerians die of illnesses associated with Tobacco use and globally, at least 1,700,000 people die of lung cancer every year,” said the PS. 

He also mentioned that “this year’s event seeks to raise awareness on the magnitude of illnesses and deaths from lung diseases such as cancer of the lungs, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pulmonary tuberculosis which evidence has shown that they can all be caused by direct tobacco use and exposure to second hand-tobacco smoke”.

The PS also appreciated the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners for their consistent support and perseverance in the journey to Tobacco control in Nigeria and his parting words were “Every Nigerian should have the right to Tobacco free air.”

In his remarks, the Officer in Charge (OIC) World Health Organization (WHO) Nigeria, Dr Clement Peter Lugala congratulated the Nigerian government for the recent passage of the 2018 National Tobacco Regulations by the National Assembly and for Nigeria becoming the 51st Party to ratify the protocol to eliminate illicit trade in Tobacco products. He also stated that “Tobacco has claimed the lives of thousands of youth and adults and it continues to pose serious health risks to persons exposed to Tobacco smoke. He called on all individuals, parents and children, as well as all community members, to protect their health and avoid the harms caused by tobacco. The OIC pledged that WHO will continue to promote and strengthen awareness of living tobacco-free lifestyles and the benefits of tobacco cessation among users. 

This year, the African region received six World No Tobacco Days Awards. Mr. Peter Unekwu-Ojo, the Executive Director of the Cedars Refuge Foundation was one of the awardees. During the handover ceremony, the OIC, on behalf of the WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus handed over the certificate of appreciation to the PS FMOH. The PS in turn, presented the certificate to the awardee. Cedars Refuge Foundation is a non-governmental initiative dedicated to tobacco control since 2011. 

Every year, WHO awards individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. This recognition takes the form of WHO Director-General Special Recognition Awards and World No Tobacco Day Awards.

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