By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has tasked the the Federal Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for the inclusion of provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act (NTC Act) in the 2018 fiscal policy and other directives.
The NTCA is a network of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs), and professional groups working on tobacco control, human rights, public health and cancer with a view to ensuring qualitative health, sustainable development and good governance for all Nigerians. NTCA is a member of the Africa Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA).
In the letter, dated 8th December, 2017, and addressed to Adeosun, the network requested the enforcement of Part VI, Section 15 (5, 6, 7) of the NTC Act which regulates the selling of smoked tobacco in an intact pack of not less than 20 sticks so that the Nigeria Customs Service can investigate and confiscate non-compliant products at the borders even before they are introduced into the market.
The same section of the Act stipulates that smokeless tobacco products must be in minimum of 30 grams pack. Otherwise, it must be confiscated.
In the letter, signed by Board Chairman of NTCA who is also deputy executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Akinbode Oluwafemi, the network said that “Part XI section 31 (1) enables the police and other law enforcement agencies of government (in this case the Nigeria Customs Service) to inspect and investigate complaints and take appropriate enforcement action under the act.”
It noted that the enforcement of the provisions will ensure that tobacco products entering the country comply with the NTC Act, as well as ensuring that the intent of the law which is to protect Nigerians from the dangers of tobacco use is not compromised by unscrupulous tobacco importers.