The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) Tobacco Programme Director, Mr. Dapo Rotifa, has warned that smoking during pregnancy is dangerous to the health of the unborn child as well as the pregnant mother.
Rofifa who stated this at a press briefing in Lagos recently to mark the ‘World No Tobacco Day’, explained that the health of a pregnant woman and the unborn child was very important, hence passive smoking should also be avoided, as this could also have a negative effect on them.
According to him, as a strategic plan to reduce smoking among Nigerians, plain packaging should be introduced as a measure that restricts or prohibits use of logos, colours, brands and images or promotional information on tobacco packaging, other than brand product and names displayed in a standard colour and front styles.
He said information from the World Health Organisation (WHO), has stressed on the need for effective health warnings on the cigarette pack, reduction in the attractiveness of tobacco products, and the restriction of the use of tobacco packaging and labeling.
“The WHO framework convention on tobacco recommends that parties consider adoption of plain packaging. Through the World No Tobacco Day 2016, WHO aims to highlight the role of plain packaging as part of a comprehensive, multispectral approach to tobacco control and facilitate policy development by member states. Moreover WHO encourages member states to work towards plain packaging in a step-wise approach by strengthening packing and labeling measures and restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship,” he said.
He also drew attention to how Nigeria became a signatory to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in June 2004 and took a giant stride on March 15, 2011 when the Nigerian Senate passed a bill to regulate and control production, manufacture, sale, advertising, promotion and sponsorship to tobacco products.
“The signing of the bill into law represented a positive step towards addressing the problem of tobacco in Nigeria in reducing all forms of tobacco related disease. It also provides a unique opportunity to domesticate the WHO Frame Work on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in Nigeria is a great challenge to Nigeria,” he added.
Also lending his voice, the Executive Director, NHF, Dr. Kingsley Akinroye also explained that the percentage of smokers increases daily among the youths, which may lead to increased death rate.
He called on the Federal Government to legislate removal of all trappings of tobacco promotion on cigarette packs and all other tobacco product wrappings, and follow Australia’s lead in introducing plain/standardised packaging, adding that government, civil society organisations, advertising professionals and international agencies should come together in implementing the recently passed Nigerian Tobacco Act of 2015; which will further drive the prevention and control of Non-communicable diseases in Nigeria.
“Government should commit funds to the programmes, especially into Nigeria’s agreement to achieve the WHO global target on non-communicable diseases reduction by 2030 through reduction of smoking prevalence in the country, especially among youths,” he added.