CSOs Lunch Warnings On Tobacco Products

CSOs Lunch Warnings On Tobacco Products

Civil Society Organisations have urged the Federal Government and regulatory agencies to ensure the effective implementation of Graphic Health Warnings on all tobacco products, including shisha and flavoured vapes.

They said this is an important step in reducing the side effects of tobacco use and protecting the health of Nigerians.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, the Chairman, Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, Akinbode Oluwafemi said compliance is low on shisha and flavoured capes.

Oluwafemi said there are concerns in Nigeria about the increasing use of tobacco products among the youths despite the health implications.

“The introduction of Graphic Health Warnings has been proven as an effective way of reducing tobacco use and its associated harms. Studies have also shown that GHWs are more effective than text-only warnings in communicating the risks associated with tobacco use. They are also more likely to be noticed and remembered by users and intending users.

“This measure is contained in Article 11 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and in our local laws. Section 20 of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 requires manufacturers, importers, and distributors of tobacco products to ensure that their products carry fully coloured graphic health warnings, covering at least 50 per cent of the principal display area and that the graphic photo must clearly show the health implications of tobacco use and exposure.

“In providing further guidelines for effectively implementing this policy, section 20 (3) of the National Tobacco Control Act stipulates that GHWs must be changed after an initial period no later than 24 months to new warnings and messages prescribed by the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare,” he stated.
He noted that the current set of warnings, depicting a picture of mouth cancer, was issued on June 23, 2023, and would expire on June 22, 2025, after two years.

“It is now a year since the warnings came into effect. As an alliance, we alerted our members in the Federal Capital Territory, Abia, Kano Bauchi, Plateau, Cross River, and Lagos States to continually monitor compliance with the second phase of the warnings.

“From the findings, the compliance level on the conventional cigarette is above 80 per cent. However, it is shocking to reveal that compliance is abysmal on three other tobacco products like shisha, and flavoured capes, that are still illegally marketed in Nigeria, this is unacceptable. The tobacco industry should not undermine the laws governing its business in Nigeria.

“The profit-centred tobacco industry producing, importing, and distributing these tobacco products is foot-dragging to weaken this policy because it knows that GHWs reduce the number of people who start smoking, just as it encourages current smokers to quit. They can help to reduce the amount of tobacco consumed by current smokers,” he noted.

He emphasised that GHWs can reduce the appeal of tobacco products, making them less attractive to young people as this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme is ‘Protecting children against tobacco industry interference.’

The NTCA boss added that “it’s been established that these warnings can reduce the economic burden of tobacco use, by cutting the number of people who start smoking and encouraging current smokers to quit, thus lowering the costs associated with treating tobacco-related diseases.