Health warnings: Government agencies still hold meetings with tobacco industries, NTCA laments

Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has expressed concern that government agencies still hold meetings with tobacco industries, despite the health challenges it poses to Nigerians, particularly the youth.
The group which noted this in Abuja while briefing newsmen on ” Stop Tobacco Industry Interference: Enforcement Graphic Health Warnings Now,” reminded the agencies that the offices they hold are on public trust and must be used in the health interest of all Nigerians.
It also called on the Standards Organisations of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Health, the Nigeria Police Force, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and all agencies tasked with enforcement of tobacco control laws, to save Nigerians by beginning the enforcement of the graphic health warnings policy on all tobacco products without delay.
Chairman of NTCA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who was represented by the programme manager, Chibuike Nwokorie, explained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the economic costs of tobacco-related illnesses amount to billions of dollars.
He said recognising this fact, Nigeria ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005, and enacted the National Tobacco Control Act in 2015, signalling its commitment to implementing evidence-based strategies to end tobacco consumption. 
He said one of these strategies is the graphic health warning policy contained in the National Tobacco Control Act of 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations approved in 2019.
“According to a recent study by the Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy in collaboration with an indigenous research group, the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa; a full implementation of the graphic health warnings policy will end 11,744 deaths caused by tobacco use; prevent 32,608 illnesses attributed to tobacco use and save the country N6, 745,786 million in healthcare costs annually. 
“These projections reiterate the fact that graphic health warnings on tobacco packs are effective in reducing tobacco use and uptake, and that they indeed save lives,” he said.
“To monitor compliance with this critical policy, as recently as this week, we activated Alliance members in the Federal Capital Territory, also, in Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Nasarawa, Kano, Adamawa, and Oyo States to carry out market surveys to determine the level of compliance within their states.
“The survey also revealed that compliance on other tobacco products such as shisha, cigars, snuff, and cigarillos is almost nonexistent.
“To strengthen tobacco control in Nigeria, there is a crucial need to address these influences through transparent and accountable governance,” he said.