Smoke In Public, Go to Jail – FG
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a new National Tobacco Control Bill 2014, which among others, prescribes six months jail term for smoking in non-designated places.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, made the disclosure while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the FEC meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.
Chukwu said that the Bill, which would be sent to the National Assembly for passage into law, prescribed stiff penalties for individuals and companies that violate tobacco control regulations.
He added that the Bill, drafted by the ministry in collaboration with other relevant stakeholders, “is specifically to control the dangerous effects of tobacco and to forestall tobacco manufacturers from turning the country to a dumping ground.’’
The Bill, he noted, “is also in line with the the 2004 WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which the country signed in 2015. Based on the directive of the President, the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with other federal ministries and other stakeholders produced the new Bill that is endorsed by FEC.
“The major ingredients of this Bill is that there are stiff penalties for people and individuals who fall foul of what will eventually become the Tobacco Control Act 2014. An individual who run foul of the provision, like smoking at areas that are designated non-smoking, will be given option of fine of up to N50,000 or combine it with imprisonment of up to six months.’’
The minister said that “for companies, the fine varies from N1 million to as much as N5 million; imprisonment of the chief executives of those companies could vary from one year to two years when they run foul of the law.’’
The health minister noted that the proposed Tobacco Law seeks to achieve 100 per cent tobacco-free environment in the country. He said places which would cover land, rail, sea and air transportations, would be clearly classified as non-smoking areas “and anyone who goes against it will be prosecuted.
“Advertisement is totally banned under this law. You cannot advertise tobacco product in any media under the law. Any form of advertisement is not permitted, either in broadcast media, outdoor, print, ward-to-ward and any form of advertisement is totally banned.
“The Bill is also looking at packaging. 50 per cent of the packaging will be to warn people about the dangerous effect of tobacco. Smuggling of the product to the country is also covered by the Bill.’’