It’s time to implement the tobacco control act
A recent alarm that tobacco companies were working to derail the implementation of the National Tobacco Control, (NTC) Act, signed into law in 2015 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, should worry critical stakeholders in the country. According to Akinbode Oluwafemi, who spoke on behalf of a coalition of Civil Society Organisations, the delay in the full implementation of the NTC Act 2015 was being exploited by the tobacco industry which is working with some unscrupulous politicians while aggressively targeting the huge youth population in the country.
Against the background that there are several studies which revealed that 80 per cent of adult smokers began smoking before the age of 18 years, the authorities should take the intervention by the CSOs very seriously. The tobacco industry invests heavily in research on how best to capture the imagination of youths, assured in the knowledge that nicotine (a heavily addictive drug found in cigarettes) would continue to ensure that the target group would persist in smoking into adulthood. Studies have also confirmed that the younger the age, the heavier the addiction and thus the harder it is to drop the habit. The calculation, which has proved true, is that most of these young people never consider the long term risks.
Yet tobacco has immediate adverse health consequences upon addiction, including accelerating the development of chronic health disease across the full life course. The relationship between active smoking, reduced lung function and impaired lung growth is also linked to a strong tobacco habit. As most countries do, Nigeria needs to focus on protecting young people from starting to smoke. For prevention, regulation is critical in an economy where the necessary statistics on the toll that tobacco has on its citizenry are lacking.