FG raises the alarm over high Tobacco related deaths in Nigeria

By Hassan Zaggi

The Federal Government has raised the alarm over the high number of tobacco related deaths in Nigeria.

Speaking at a media briefing to mark the year 2021 World No Tobacco day in Abuja, Monday, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, disclosed that research finding published  this year by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa showed that 29,472 deaths in Nigeria were attributable to smoking.

He further revealed that Tobacco Atlas of 2018 reports estimates of more than 16,100 deaths from tobacco-related diseases every year.

According to the Minister, “in Nigeria, findings from the 2012 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) show that 5.6% (4.5 million) Nigerians 15 years and older, currently use tobacco products of which 3.9% (3.1 million) are smokers.

“The GATS result further shows that 45.4% of the smokers had attempted to quit in the past 12 months prior to the survey, of which 61.1% attempted to do so without any assistance while 15% tried counseling and 5.2% tried pharmacotherapy.”

Ehanire further revealed that tobacco use or exposure to second-hand smoke is the leading preventable risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

WHO data, he said,  “showed that there are over 1.3 billion tobacco users in the world, and that tobacco is in one way or another responsible for more than 8 million deaths each year,  more than 7 million of which are as the result of direct tobacco use while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being indirectly exposed to second-hand smoke.”

On what the government is doing to tackle the menace, the Minister said: “In tacking the tobacco menace, Nigeria signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

“In furtherance of the WHO FCTC, Nigeria enacted the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.”

Speaking, the Country Representative of WHO, Dr Kazadi Mulombo, vow to continue to support Nigeria to meet its obligations under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“Just to also note that there’s a need for all of us to be alert to industry tactics as they attract new users and keep people using tobacco, even when they are trying to quit.

“Products such as electronic cigarettes and nicotine pouches are highly addictive and not recommended as strategies to reduce tobacco use,” he said.

He, therefore, called for support to all and sundry with the tools and resources needed to successfully quit and to reduce the demand for tobacco.

This, the WHO Country Representative stressed, “will save live, save money and create healthier societies.”

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