The Federal Ministry of Health has launched Version One of the Nigeria Tobacco Control Data Initiative (TCDI), a virtual (web-based) dashboard to provide information on tobacco prevalence and other parameters in the country.
The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, at the launch on Tuesday in Abuja, said the ministry in partnership with Development Gateway, developed the TCDI, to commemorate the 2022 ‘World No Tobacco Day’ with the theme “Tobacco: A threat to our environment”.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that World No Tobacco Day is commemorated globally on May 31 every year.
However, due to other National engagements, Nigeria has chosen to mark the day on June 28.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said the prevalence of the use of tobacco was increasing worldwide.
According to WHO, tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing up to half of its users with more than eight million deaths recorded annually around the world.
It said more than eight million of those deaths were the results of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million resulted from non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke or what some call “passive smoking”.
Mamora said, to deepen the implementation of the graphic health warning intervention, the ministry in partnership with the Management Sciences for Health (MSH), was implementing a nationwide graphic health warning awareness project.
“We are using the project opportunity to also sensitise the public to the need to comply with the provisions of the law such that tobacco products shall not be sold in single sticks or sold to and by persons less than 18 years of age.
“It is still important to remind us that winning the war against tobacco use is a joint responsibility. I would like to take this opportunity to urge Nigerians to avoid tobacco and exposure to second-hand smoke.
“Quitting tobacco is beneficial because it will decrease your risk of many diseases. It will also protect even babies, children and women as they are the topmost victims of second-hand smoke,” he said.
The minister urged Nigerians to report infringements on provisions of the National Tobacco Control Laws and Regulations to the Law Enforcement Agencies.
According to him, beyond the environment, tobacco use, including exposure to second-hand smoke, has contributed to 12 per cent of all deaths from heart disease and is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease, second only to high blood pressure.
He said that while these numbers were bad for tobacco users, it was important to remember that nearly 900,000 people were killed by breathing in second-hand smoke.
“In addition to heart disease and hypertension, tobacco use and second-hand smoke cause other notable non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
“From the 2012 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 5.6 per cent (4.5 million) Nigerians 15 years and older currently use tobacco products of which 3.9 per cent (3.1 million) are current smokers.
“The result also found high and significant exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) during visits to public places with the prevalence of 82 per cent in bars/nightclubs, 36.3 per cent in coffee shops, 22.3 per cent in universities and 29.3 per cent in restaurants.
“The Tobacco Atlas sixth edition estimates that more than 26,800 annual deaths occur from tobacco-related diseases in Nigeria.
“Similarly, a report of studies by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, which was published in 2021, corroborated that 29,472 deaths were attributable to smoking in Nigeria,” he noted.
The minister said that globally, there was a coordinated effort to hold accountable the people behind this ugly trend.
“The campaign for this year’s World No Tobacco day also aims at exposing the efforts of tobacco companies to “greenwash” their reputation by presenting themselves as environmentally friendly.
“The campaign opens our eyes to the environmental impact of the entire tobacco cycle, from its cultivation, production and distribution to the toxic waste it generates.
“According to WHO report, every year, tobacco production contributes 84 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air; this is equivalent to 3 million transatlantic flights.
“Tobacco companies use up nearly 600 million trees every year in producing cigarettes.
“Globally, tobacco companies expend about 22 billion tonnes of water every year in tobacco production, this is the equivalent of 15 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded improperly every year, making it the single largest type of litter in the world,” he explained.
Mamora said that while efforts were ongoing at the global level to address the damages caused by tobacco use, the FMoH had not relented at the country level with so many responses.
“For instance, the Federal Government of Nigeria with effect from June, 1, 2022, commenced implementation of a new three-year tobacco tax regime which will end in 2024.
“This new regime increased the Ad-Valorem tax rate from 20 per cent to 30.
“In addition to the 30 per cent ad-valorem, a specific excise rate has been increased from ₦58 to ₦84 per pack of 20 sticks of cigarette, and this will further be increased to ₦94 per pack in 2023; and then ₦104 per pack in 2024.
“Also, Shisha is now taxed at the rate of ₦3,000 per litre and ₦1,000 per kilogram and this will be increased yearly by ₦500,” he disclosed.
He said that this pro-health tax was an effective public health control measure against behavioural risk factors aimed at reducing the demand and consumption of tobacco products.
“It also prompts tobacco users to switch expending their resources on tobacco products to healthy alternatives such as education, health, nutrition, etc. This is good thinking.
“ In compliance with the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and Regulations 2019, the Ministry, with support from the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC), has commenced screening and issuance of an operational licence to qualified major tobacco businesses in Nigeria.
This is “with the view to profiling and monitoring tobacco industry activities nationwide.
“In addition, the tobacco industry must ensure that the unit packages of all their tobacco products have the approved text and pictorial/graphic health warning message so that the public, especially tobacco users, are made aware of the harmful effects of tobacco use,” he added.
In his goodwill message, WHO Country Rep, Dr Walter Mulombo, commended tobacco control advocates for defending the flag of the country through different initiatives to combat tobacco use.
According to Mulombo, saying ‘no’ to tobacco is saying ‘yes’ to life.
“Let us save lives around us by making them aware of the threats tobacco poses to all of us.”
According to NATOCC’s Executive Director, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, there is the need to get Tobacco Industry players to be accountable for the harm they cause to the environment and the people.
Oluwafemi reiterated that Tobacco threatened more than just the health of its users.
According to him, “let’s not allow tobacco to turn our happiness into ashes. Let’s be a part of the solution not part of the pollution”.
NAN recalls that some of the sidelines of the event were an award presentation by WHO, to Mrs Margaret Julius, for her advocacy work on ‘No Tobacco in Nigeria’, in collaboration with the Nigerian Police, among others.
Meanwhile, the theme for this year’s campaign, “Tobacco: A Threat to our environment”, is aimed at creating awareness about the environmental impact of tobacco, to educate people on the dangers and health risks of tobacco use, and ultimately to prevent and control the use of tobacco around the world.
Tobacco damages the environment by contributing grossly to global warming.
The environmental damage comes from the various stages of tobacco cultivation, production, distribution and usage.
Within the health arena, it is well documented how environmental factors are so closely interlinked and can often be traced as the root cause of poor health and well-being.
Therefore, we must work together, taking action in promoting the elimination of tobacco use both locally and globally.