By Hassan Zaggi
The World Health Organisation (WHO), has called on members states to implement well known measures that will strengthen tobacco control as found in its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The regional Director of the WHO, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made the call in a statement to mark the 2018 World No Tobacco Day, yesterday.
Nigeria bécane party to the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control inJanuary 18, 2006. Nine years after, the Nigerian Tobacco Control Act was passed at the House of Representatives and Senate on April 23, 2015 and May 12, 2015, respectively.
He noted that some of the effective ways to reduce tobacco demand within a short time include increasing tobacco taxes and prices. This, according to him, “will save lives as well as generate money for governments. Other steps include creating completely smoke-free indoor workplaces and public places, instituting hard-hitting warnings and graphic pictures about the dangers of smoking on cigarette packaging, and banning tobacco advertisement, promotion and sponsorship.”
The WHO regretted that tobacco is one of the biggest public health threats in the world, killing more than 7 million people each year globally.
In Nigeria, however, according to Tobacco Atlas, more than 175, 000 deaths are recorded each year as a result of smoking-related diseases. This translates to about 207 men and 130 women weekly.
According to the WHO Regional Director: “Tobacco breaks hearts. Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke contribute to about 12% of all heart disease deaths. There is no safe level for people, particularly children, women and workers, who have to be in the same room as smokers.”
Dr Moeti further said that, in the African Region, about 146 000 adults aged 30 years and above die every year from tobacco-related diseases.
He noted that policies that regulate tobacco, promote smoke-free environments and encourage people to quit smoking will contribute to improving the health and well-being of all people, insisting that, “this requires strong leadership, political commitment and an informed civil society working together to press for heart-healthy policies and the right to health.”