HURIWA Urges Senator President Akpabio to Push for Law Against Smoking by  Nigerians Under 18

HURIWA Urges Senator President Akpabio to Push for Law Against Smoking by Nigerians Under 18

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has urged the Senate President Godswill Akpabio to move for a legislative framework to ban youths who are less than 18 year old from ever smoking Tobacco products or be sold cigarettes by shops in Nigeria.

This is following the May 31st commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day which was themed “Protecting Children from Tobacco Industry Interference,” aimed to pressure governments to implement policies to prevent children from becoming replacement smokers,

HURIWA which lamented that Nigeria has not done anything significant to check the unprecedented rise in youth tobacco addiction, is therefore tasking the National Assembly to borrow from the British parliamentary proposed legislation to ban smoking by youths.

The Rights group said if such a law is approved in Nigeria, then Nigerian law makers would have beaten the British parliament in achieving such a landmark legislative framework which wasn’t successful in Great Britain because Prime minister Rishi Sunak of the UK abruptly called for general election for July 4th even before the anti-tobacco bill was passed in United Kingdom.

 “For once, Nigerian politicians should achieve something edifying and break World’s record whilst doing so. Passing a legislation against smoking Tobacco for youngsters before they are 18, will achieve such a double honours for the Nigerian National Assembly.

They would’ve done a noble job to save our youngsters from the menacing effects of early exposure to Tobacco, then the parliament of Nigeria would then score a higher mark against their British counterparts who couldn’t complete the legislative process of passing such a law initiated by the British Prime Minister.”

HURIWA recalled that the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban smoking for younger generations will not become law after he called a snap election leaving no time to push through one of his flagship policies.

“The smoking ban, of course, disappointed not to be able to get that through at the end of the session given the time available,” Sunak told reporters on Friday.

PM Sunak had wanted to bring in some of the world’s strictest anti-smoking rules by banning anyone aged 15 and under from ever buying cigarettes, but the bill to make that happen was left off the parliamentary agenda, leading to speculation it would be shelved.

He called an election for July 4 on recently, giving the government just days to complete outstanding legislative business in a so-called “wash-up” period.

In his speech calling for the election, Sunak had boasted that his government had ensured the next generation would be “smoke-free”.

But that claim – seen as a key part of his intended legacy – will be undermined without the anti-smoking bill becoming law, even if the next government reintroduces the legislation.

HURIWA is therefore through a media statement is calling on the Nigerian Parliament to beat the record of the British parliament by passing a similar legislation to ensure that Nigerian youngsters are banned from ever accessing cigarettes and other tobacco addictive products just as stiff penalties such as fines should be imposed against shops that sell such products to youngsters under 18 years of age.

HURIWA through its National  Coordinator Comrade  Emmanuel Onwubiko recalled that globally, the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) is held every May 31 and it is targeted at informing the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations. The Member States of the World Health Organisation created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes.

HURIWA also recalled that in 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for April 7, 1988 to be a “a world no-smoking day.” In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.

Citing publications by experts, HURIWA affirmed that tobacco use as studies have shown, is the single most preventable cause of death globally. Tobacco kills up to half of its users. By 2030, the World Health Organisation (WHO) projects that tobacco will kill more than 8 million people every year, with most of the deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries such as Nigeria.

Tobacco is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, HURIWA quotes scientists as claiming.

HURIWA appealed to the Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives to work in partnership with the Senate so the strictest anti-smoking law is passed just as the Rights group asked President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to sign such a bill once sent to his desk to signpost the determination of his administration to end the menace of youths’ early exposure to Tobacco.

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