Written by Williams ABAH

Health ministry commits to tackling tobacco use

The Federal Ministry of Health has reaffirmed its commitment towards tackling tobacco usage in Nigeria. 

The permanent secretary of the ministry, Mr. Abdulaziz Abdullahi, made this known during the commemoration of 2019 World Tobacco Day with the theme; "Tobacco and Lung Health", held in Abuja.  

Abdullahi said that this year’s commemoration further seeks to raise awareness and bring all relevant stakeholders on board to reinforce the Federal Ministry of Health efforts in the promotion of lung health with a view to achieving overall health and well-being of Nigerians. 

He further stated that tobacco is a legitimate product, however its use in any form or disguise including exposure to second hand tobacco smoke is very hazardous as it has no permissible safe limit. 

According to him, laboratory analysis shows that tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals of which at least 250 are proven to be harmful and 69 are known to cause cancer. 

He informed that according to the World Health Organization, WHO, there are over 1.1 billion adult smokers worldwide and out of this, 367 million persons use smokeless tobacco products, and 8 million die annually through the effect of tobacco of which over 6 million are direct use and about 890,000 by exposure to second hand smoke. 

Abudulaziz, pointed out that at least 50 percent of lifetime tobacco smokers will die before they reach 70 years of age, and the average loss of life from smoking is a full decade of life. 

He emphasised that it behooves on all Nigerians to do all they can to prevent tobacco related lung disease. 

According to him, globally, lung cancer, which is the deadliest cancer, kills 1.76 million people each year of which approximately 37,748 of the lung cancer deaths occur in Africa. 

Abdulaziz said that health ministry is coordinating all national tobacco control activities to ensure that the efforts will lead to the ratification of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control in 2005. 

He added that the National Tobacco Control Committee, NATOCC, drafted and vetted by the ministry and submitted to the National Assembly through the Federal Executive Council, FEC, has finally been approved on May 28, in line with section 39 of the Act. 

He further stated that the ministry is mobilizing resources for a national awareness creation and capacity building to create awareness of the urgent need to assist those already using tobacco products. 

In her address, the Director, Public Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, noted that the ministry convened a stakeholders meeting to develop draft National Tobacco Control Communication Plan and the National Tobacco Control Committee, NATOCC, to continue with its work as stipulated in the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015. 

Evelyn further said that the ministry in collaboration with stakeholders will embark on public sensitization campaign in Wuse market in FCT to ensure effective awareness 

Speaking during the event, the WHO officer in charge, Dr. Peter Clement, said that Nigeria has the National Tobacco Act and the recent approval by the National Assembly to fully implement the Act was concrete steps to address tobacco use in Nigeria. 

 

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