A non-governmental organisation, Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, has urged President Bola Tinubu to champion the strengthening and implementation of tobacco control laws to protect the health of Nigerians.
NTCA made the call on Thursday at a press briefing in commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day.
WNTD is observed around the world every year on May 31, and this year’s theme is ‘Grow Food, Not Tobacco.’
The Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the theme drews the attention of the world to the dangers of tobacco farming.
He said the tobacco industry paints a picture of economic prosperity among tobacco farmers, however, in reality, tobacco farmers are poor and farmers who have invested many years growing tobacco in Nigeria continue to live in poverty.
Oluwafemi, who was represented by the Programme Coordinator, Chibuike Nwokorie, said, “Your Excellency Bola Tinubu, we congratulate you on your recent inauguration as President of Nigeria. It is important that as you begin your administration, you are made aware of several burning tobacco control issues. You have promised Nigerians that you will hit the ground running, and we want to charge you to apply the same energy to tobacco control.
“Albeit with challenges, we achieved the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. We also achieved the National Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019, during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. What is left is yours to do, and you can champion the strengthening and implementation of our tobacco control laws to protect the health of all Nigerians in keeping faith with the oath you solemnly swore on May 29, 2023.”
The group noted that while tobacco cultivation had declined in the developed world in recent years, it had picked up in low-income countries in Africa, majorly in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.
“In Nigeria, tobacco cultivation occurs primarily in Kwara, Osun, Oyo and Sokoto states.
“During tobacco cultivation and curing, wet tobacco leaves produce nicotine and other toxins that are absorbed into the body. This causes green tobacco sickness among farmers. Tobacco growers are also known to suffer from respiratory and neurological disorders due to exposure to tobacco leaves.
“According to the United Nations, over 25 million people in Nigeria are facing hunger, and globally, that figure stands at over 300 million people. In the face of this looming food insecurity, large portions of arable lands are turning into barren wastelands from tobacco cultivation.”