Tomorrow will be May 31. Every year,
that day is observed globally as the
World No Tobacco Day, WNTD. It
is a day both government and nongovernmental
groups unite to renew
campaigns against cigarette smoking adjudged
a “gradual killer”.
It is also a day set aside to encourage 24-hour
abstinence, by explaining to people the inherent
health and other socioeconomic and cultural
cum legal implications of tobacco consumption.
According to the World Health Organisation,
WHO, no fewer than 6million people die from
tobacco consumption annually. While 5 million
die from direct consumption, another 600,000
non-smokers die from being open to secondhand
smoke otherwise known as passive smoking.
It warned that global death rates from tobacco
consumption might be up to 8million in 2030 if
urgent steps are not taken.
Shocking also is that 80percent of the more
than one billion smokers worldwide live in
low and middle-income countries, where the
burden of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths
are heaviest. At least one person dies every
6seconds, meaning one in 10 adults die from
tobacco-related diseases. Another statistics show
that about 100million deaths were recorded in the
20th Century alone, and if the trend continues,
100million more deaths might be recorded in the
21st century. The epidemic will kill more, unless
we act now.
But the campaigns aside, most people are
still ignorant of the harmful effects of tobacco
consumption. One of the effects is that there are
more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, of
which at least 250 are known to be destructive
and more than 50 others are identified to cause
cancer. While, secondhand smoke is said to be
the major cause of cardiovascular, respiratory
and coronary heart diseases, as well as lung
cancer in adults and infants, it causes sudden
death in others. These alone are enough reasons
to discourage tobacco consumption globally.
It is therefore against this backdrop that this
year’s theme: ‘Stop Illicit Trade of Tobacco
Products’, is not only apt, but has become a
major global concern. Studies reveal that illicit
tobacco markets account for at least one in every
10 cigarettes consumed worldwide. Already, the
European Commission puts the costs of illicit
trade in cigarettes among member states at over
€10billion annually in lost taxes and customs
revenue, and about 65percent of cigarettes seized
in the EU are counterfeits.
More worrisome also is that the illicit trade
not only worsens the global tobacco epidemic,
but its security implications manifest heavily in
the areas of financing organised crime, drugs,
human and arms trafficking, as well as terrorism.
We thus call on all countries to work together to
end the illicit trade of tobacco products. This can
be done through one or a combination of all of
these: heavy taxes on tobacco products and total
ban on their advertisements; media campaigns,
as well as photographs with graphic warning
signs to discourage consumption.
It is gratifying to note that the immediate past
President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, signed into
law the anti-Tobacco Control Bill which is a
remarkable step forward. Though, more work
needs to be done, it is a welcomed relief that
Nigeria has now joined the league of nations that
have taken proactive steps towards protecting
its citizenry from the harmful effects of Tobacco
As we count down to WNTD, we therefore
urge the President Muhammadu Buhari
administration to ignite the process and
mechanism that will ensure effective
implementation of the anti-tobacco control law.