The Federal Government has banned the use of flavoured tobacco, especially Shisha, in public places, and directed security agencies to arrest anyone found inhaling the substance.

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, made this known on Monday in Abuja, in an event organised to mark the 2018 World No Tobacco Day celebration in Nigeria with the theme, ‘Tobacco Breaks the Heart Choose Health, Not Tobacco’.

This was even as he said Nigeria losses $800 million annually to stroke, heart disease and diabetes, even as the projected accumulated loss to tobacco in 2015 has been put at $7.6 billion. He explained that evidence has shown that for every $1 gain from tobacco business about $3 was expended on healthcare cost.

Worried over the increasing rate of tobacco-related deaths in the country and the world in general, a work plan was developed and launched by the minister on the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act, which could be implemented by stakeholders before the approval of the NTC Regulations, to curb the use of tobacco products in the country.

“The work plan outlines education, enforcement and monitoring for compliance including the ban on sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below 18 years of age; ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind; ban on smoking in public places; and ban on sale of tobacco products in piecemeal quantity but in packs of 20 sticks for cigarettes or 30g for smokeless tobacco.

“The FMOH is also looking beyond the work plan as we are developing a comprehensive 5-year National Tobacco Control Strategic Plan that will provide the roadmap for complete tobacco control. In addition to this, the FMOH participated actively in the review of the Nigeria Industrial Standard for tobacco products convened by Standards Organisation of Nigeria in collaboration with Consumer Protection Council (CPC).

“A key outcome of this review was the ban on all characterizing flavours including the addition of menthol into tobacco products. This decision is to protect our children from getting enticed by flavoured tobacco products. Let me stress that the ban on tobacco products with characterizing flavours is still in place and the ban includes shisha because it has flavour. I therefore urge the CPC and the law enforcement agencies to intensify arrest of defaulters,” he said.

According to him, there were more than 1 billion smokers globally and more than 7 million people were killed annually by tobacco. Of this figure, he said more than 6 million die from direct tobacco use, and close to 900,000 die from exposure to second-hand smoke.

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