The World Health Organisation, WHO, has disclosed that a total of 30 Nigerians die each year as a result of tobaco-related illnesses.
Country Representative of WHO, Dr. Walter Kazuli Molumbo, disclosed this in Abuja at a ceremony marking the 2022 World No Tobacco day.
Molumbo expressed worry that non communicable diseases are increasingly overtaking communicable diseases in terms of the number of deaths they cause in Nigeria.
“Close to 30,000 lives are lost yearly due to tobacco related illnesses. This is far more than the 3,000 lives claimed by COVID19 in the three years of the pandemic,” he said.
According to him, tobacco is a silent killer which manifests through cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and other ailments.
Speaking on the 2022 theme of the event: “Tobacco:A threat to our environment,” he noted that the event presented an opportunity for Nigeria to right the wrongs of the past as the country failed to take necessary measures to check tobacco consumption.
He, however, commended the federal government for the current efforts to curb the negative impact of tobacco on the citizen, particularly the setting up of an emergency inter-ministerial committee to fast-track action on advocacy and sensitization.
The even afforded the Federal Government the opportunity to launch an initiative that would ensure availability of accurate data on tobacco control activities.
Speaking on the importance of the tobacco monitoring dashboard, Country Lead Development Gateway: An IREX Venture, Seember Ali, said the essence of the initiative, which is being funded by the WHO and Bill Gates Foundation, was to try and fill the gaps in data in relation to damages caused by tobacco consumption in Nigeria.
Ali said the focus was to device a one-stop data shop for gathering of data the needs that will help to advocates anti tobacco consumption to engage in proper and effective tobacco control campaign.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that the tobacco control dashboard will enable advocates to effectively engage policy-makers and other stakeholders towards achieving drastic reduction in the health hazards caused by tobacco in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the prevalence of tobacco use is increasing worldwide.
Mamorah said over 8.2 million people are killed by tobacco-related illnesses across the world, adding that more than 7 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”.
He stated that tobacco damages the environment by contributing grossly to global warming, adding that the environmental damage comes from the various stages of tobacco cultivation, production, distribution and usage.
“Beyond the environment, tobacco use including exposure to second-hand smoke has contributed to 12 percent of all deaths from heart disease and is the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease, second only to high blood pressure.
“While these numbers are bad for tobacco users, it is important to remember that nearly 900,000 people are 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 like stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases,” he said.