7m smokers die yearly in Nigeria, say FMoH, CISLAC

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Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) have revealed that over seven million Nigerians die yearly from tobacco smoking.They warned that the death toll would rise to about eight million by 2020, if measures were not taken to check it.

Branch Head of Tobacco Control Unit, Non-Communicable Diseases, FMoH, Dr. Manjar Malau, disclosed this yesterday at a one-day stakeholders meeting.The forum on tobacco taxation in Nigeria was held in Lagos under a project tagged: “Tobacco Tax Advocacy in Africa.”Malau, who spoke on tobacco and health consequences, tobacco industry interference and country commitment to control, said the substance harms the health, environment and economy of the nation.

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Referring to Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), he that the GYTS estimated that over 20 billion of cigarette sticks are consumed in Nigeria yearly.He said the new June 2018 taxation regime of N1 per stick could earn the country N20 billion yearly.

The branch head stressed that Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) revealed that the world has been battling tobacco epidemics with over 1.1 billion adult smokers since 2000.“Although there has been little but steady reduction, the number of adult smokers is projected to still remain in excess of N1 billion by 2025,” he said.

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Malau said 82 per cent of people who visit bars in Nigeria are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke, while middle-income and developing countries bear 80 per cent brunt of the hazards. He explained that tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals of which at least, 250 are known to be harmful.

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More than 50 are known to cause cancer and other diseases like diabetes mellitus, tuberculosis, stroke and cardiovascular diseases.He expressed concern about how legislations are ineffective in stopping the menace, even as tobacco companies are interfering and replacing smokers with younger ones due to poor policies and laws in developing countries.

Executive Director of CISLAC, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa, disclosed that Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) supported the event.He added: “Tobacco taxation is an essential component of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy.

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“Tobacco taxation, passed on to consumers in the form of higher cigarette prices, has been recognised as one of the most effective population-based strategies for decreasing smoking and its adverse health consequences.”A board member of CISLAC, Adesina Oke and the event facilitator, Mr. Okeke Anya, urged government to speed up efforts on regulatory laws for the health benefit of the people.

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