The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) condemns in totality, what it described as the open display of rascality arising from the recent threats by British American Tobacco (BAT) and other multinational tobacco firms (as reported in theguardian UK) in some African countries with wild demand that they repeal or dilute existing protections against the rising dreaded health and socio-economic impacts of tobacco use in the continent.
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, in a statement on Sunday, said the organisation is not unaware of some dangerous and terrible efforts by the group to frustrate successes against tobacco use across Uganda, Namibia, Togo, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya and Burkina Faso.
Musa Rafsanjani said this is not minding the fact that tobacco use constitutes the second major cause of mortality in the world leading to untimely deaths of millions of people worldwide with about 6 million deaths annually out of which 600,000 are non-smokers coupled with potentially eight million estimated deaths by year 2030, most especially from the developing countries.
He said: “We are also aware of evil propensity of Tobacco Industry’s emptied legal intimidations and threats, but such must not constitute a formidable obstacle to backpedal on the current gains recorded against the dreaded effects of tobacco use in Africa, as the on-going drives for the passage of Tobacco Control Regulations in Nigeria will soon be before the National Assembly for the effective implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015.
“We urge the National Assembly and the Nigerian Government not to succumb to the emptied legal and economic threats by the group and uphold passage and implementation of the regulations in accordance to the pro-poor provisions of the WHO FCTC, giving serious concern to the increasingly socio-economic burden of tobacco use on families, the poor, and health systems.
“We also call on the government especially the Federal and States Ministries of Agriculture to adopt and invest in healthy means of livelihood for the citizens and find alternative crops to hapless tobacco farmers to effectively engage; to avert economic threats by tobacco industries and avoid an epidemic of Green Tobacco Sickness, a disease common to tobacco farmers.”
The CISLAC boss demanded for intensified and continuous awareness among policy sponsors and policy champions of tobacco control on the continent including inter-ministerial committees; and sustained advocacy by the Tobacco Control Coalitions in Africa to fast-track the passage/ implementation of Comprehensive Tobacco Control laws across the Continent in accordance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
He further called for concerted efforts by government to raise taxes and prices to reduce consumption as had been done by the countries where these tobacco companies are coming from and where they are paying huge penalties for law violations.
The government agencies and individuals in government, he said, must not fall prey to the deceitful tactics of the Tobacco Industry by accepting dreadful donations and enticements from the tobacco industries as these are only geared towards undermining the law and its enforcement.