The Nigerian government is planning to enact a Tobacco Control Act that will carry strict measures for offenders.
The proposed Act, which carries a fine of 50,000 (about 769 dollars) or an unspecified jail term, was discussed at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, said tobacco alone was the cause of many diseases that had led to untimely death in Nigeria.
“The government can no longer stand and watch while its citizens perish from tobacco smoking,” he said.
Another resolution reached at the FEC meeting is the setting up of a special committee to look at how to ensure that Nigerians benefit significantly from the revised GDP data recently released by the government, emphasising the need to face the challenges exposed by the new figures.
The council believes that the challenges brought about by the rebased GDP data include the need to work a bit more in the distribution of the GDP to the different sectors so that the growth will make an all-inclusive impact on the lives of citizens.
Another committee that will work on the report of the Presidential Committee on Restructuring and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatls, Commission and Agencies was also set up.
The council is to come up with modalities on how to carry out the mergers, where necessary, to avoid wastages in government.
It is not the first time the Federal Government is placing control on the use of tobacco products, but the proposed Act for sure carries stricter measures.
The council members said that the provisions had been weak and needed reinforcement to protect Nigerians from the harmful effect of tobacco.
‘No Smoking in Public Places Act’
Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial city, in February, passed a bill into law prohibiting smoking in public places.
Signing the ‘No Smoking in Public Places Act, Governor, Babatunde Fashola, expressed optimism that the law would further strengthen the State Government’s commitment towards protecting lives of the citizens.
According to the law, people who smoke in public places will risk a three year jail term.
The Act prohibits smoking in areas designated as non-smoking areas, including museums, public toilets, library, nurseries, day care centers and any facility used for the care of infants.
The law also mandates owners of public places to place signs with the inscription; ‘No Smoking’ or symbols as part of enlightenment for smokers and would-be violators of the law.
It also mandates them to create areas far from the vicinity where people could smoke. Non-compliance by owners of public places, according to the law, shall attract a fine of 100, 000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment, or other non-custodial punishment that the judge may deem fit, a measure stricter than that of the Federal Government.
In the case of a corporate organisation’s refusal to place a ‘No Smoking’ sign or symbol within its premises, any personnel in the management of the corporate body would be liable to a fine in the sum of 250, 000 Naira upon conviction. This may be a director or manager in the organisation.
According to the Act, anyone who repeatedly violates the provisions of the law, on conviction shall be liable to a fine of 50, 000 Naira or 6 months imprisonment or both. While anyone who smokes in the presence of a child shall be liable on conviction to a fine of 15, 000 Naira or 1 month imprisonment.