By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
Civil societies organisations, federal ministry of Health recently carried out a public sensitisation rally on the streets of Abuja from beger to wuse Market to commemorate World Tobacco day which was usually marked 31st of May.
The group said they took the sensitivization on the streets with a message that any one who violates the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act will face fines or jail terms.
The march which was organised by the ministry in conjunction with the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) and others anti -tobacco organisation stated that the rally was part of activities to mark the 2019 World No Tobacco Day which has as theme: “Tobacco and Lung Health”.
They group had various Leaflets handed out with information of the Tobacco Act and the campaigners were carrying placards with different inscription such as Tobacco is a threat to develop ment, tobacco kills among many other all to educate traders on the effect of tobacco and the Tobacco Regulations that were approved by the National Assembly on 28 May 2019.
Consequently,speaking at the really Abraham Agbons of the Federal Ministry of Health explained that the sensitisation walk was planned immediately after the passage of the Tobacco Regulations to bring the message nearer to the grassroots and ensure they understand the text of the law and penalty for violators.
Earlier, Programme Coordinator of the NTCA, Oluseun Esan said that the benefits of the law include safer air to breathe and protection of non smokers from secondhand smoke which kills about 600,000 people annually.
He pointed out that the approved Regulations would now make it possible for the Federal Ministry of Health and the relevant agencies of government to fully implement the NTC Act, which was signed into law by former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.
Also, Philip Japkor Head Public Relations ERA said “as you know the tobacco regulations has been passed last week by the national assembly that’s good news so at this stage what must commence immediately is what we have key in to the sensitivization inorder to create awareness for the public to known that smoking in public places is prohibited ,it was now illegal to sell cigarettes in sticks and to under-aged persons, adding also, that smoking in public places such as viewing centers was an offence punishable by fine or prison term.
Adding that ,the Regulations, which were approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives, address the licensing of tobacco products, duration of the license, and the sizes of pictographs and graphic health warnings on tobacco packs, among others.
The pictographs and health warnings which will cover 50% of the display area of tobacco packs replace the message,.“
He said what we need now, is for the Buhari’s second term administration to act swiftly to implement this laws.
Meanwhile,groups that participated in the march were the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Cedars Foundation, University of Abuja Smoke-free Club, and the Nigeria Medical Association, among others.