Government plans gradual phase-out of tobacco companies
By Ngozi Oboh
Worried the negative impact of tobacco on smokers, the ministry of health is considering a tactful way of terminating the lives of tobacco producing companies in Nigeria, according to Folake Ademola – Majekodumi, director Special Services, federal ministry of health.
Mrs Ademola- Majekodumi who represented Linus Awute, permanent secretary of the ministry at the press briefing to mark the ‘2011 world no tobacco day’ on Tuesday in Abuja stated that it would have been ideal to automatically close down the tobacco companies but for the legal instrument backing their establishment.
He said that some developed nations are systematically ejecting them out of their countries but they are finding solace in some unassuming developing countries.
“It will be difficult to ban production of tobacco because the companies exist by law but we will make tobacco usage unattractive in the country,” he said. “When there is no demand for their products, the companies die naturally. We will not ask them to close shops but will encourage these industries to die slowly and diversify into other businesses.”
The tobacco industry, she said has continued to put profit first before the lives of people; its own expansion before health of future generation and its own gain ahead of substantial development of our countries.
She said that WHO has staged intense fight against tobacco multinational.
“Governments all over the world are bracing up for the fight with tobacco multinationals with a global strategy such as WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Nigeria ratified the FCTC in October 2005 and is now a party to the convention. While tobacco multinationals continue to launch new products, countries have the FCTC to rely on in the fight against tobacco use.”
On why tobacco smoking should be discouraged, she said tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world. Tobacco products consists of over 4000 chemicals, have no safe level of consumption both in quality and quantity.
Tobacco products are products made entirely or partly of leaf tobacco as raw material, which are intended to be smoked, sucked, chewed or snuffed. All contain the highly addictive substance, nicotine.
Mrs Ademola- Majekodumi added that “tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. It is the only legal consumer product that kills one third to one half of those who use it as intended by its manufacturers, with its victims dying on average 15 years prematurely.”
The world no tobacco day, she noted is celebrated annually on May 31 to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use, tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes and advocating for effective policies to discourage and reduce consumption.
It would have been celebrated in Nigeria on May 31 but for presidential inauguration.
Luis Sambo, WHO Regional Director in his message at the event said smoking is responsible for 90 per cent of lung cancer, 70 per cent of chronic bronchitis and emphysema and 25 per cent of ischemic herat disease.
“The economic impact of disability, lost productivity and early deaths due to tobacco contributes to the burden of poverty, retarding national development and further widening health inequities,” said Mr Sambo.
We have witnessed what has happened to tobbacpo companies in the developed world