Monday, September 26, 2022

2022 World Tobacco Day: Health Ministry Launches Tobacco Control Data Initiative Dashboard

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The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) has launched the first version of the Nigeria Tobacco Control Data Initiative (TCDI), a virtual dashboard to provide information on tobacco prevalence and other parameters in the country. 

Speaking at the launch today (June 28, 2022) in Abuja, the Minister of State for Health, Sen. Adeleke Mamora, said the ministry in partnership with Development Gateway developed the TCDI, to commemorate the 2022 World No Tobacco Day themed “Tobacco: A threat to our environment”. 

The World No Tobacco Day is commemorated globally on May 31 every year. However, due to other national engagements, Nigeria has chosen to mark this year’s World No Tobacco Day, on June 28, 2022.

The prevalence of tobacco use is increasing worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, (WHO), the 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 worldwide. 

More than eight million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of 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 a not-for-profit organisation, 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 on the need to comply with the provisions of the law (such as “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. Also, it will protect even babies, children and women, as they are the topmost victims of second-hand smoke,” he explained. 

The minister urged Nigerians to report infringements on provisions of the National Tobacco Control Laws and Regulations to 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,” he said.

Mamora said that while efforts were ongoing at the global level to address the damages caused by tobacco use, the FMoH has not relented in its responses at country level.

“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 per cent. 

“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; 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, as it can reduce 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 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 stated. 

In his goodwill message, the country representative of the WHO, Dr. Walter Kazadi 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.”

The executive director, NATOCC, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi emphasised the need to hold tobacco industry players accountable for the harm they cause to the environment and people. 

Oluwafemi reiterated that tobacco threatens more than just the health of its users. 

He said the world could no longer afford to allow tobacco turn its happiness into ashes. “Let’s be a part of the solution, not part of the pollution.”

Racheal Abujah
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