A coalition of Nigeria health advocacy groups has urged the Senate to ensure a healthier Nigeria by voting to adopt the National Tobacco Control Bill (NTCB) passed by the House of Representatives last week.
The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance—led by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC)—commended the House of Representatives for passing the NTCB on 23 April with key provisions that will guarantee the wellness of Nigerians, including a ban on single-stick cigarette sales, a requirement for combined picture and text health warnings covering at least 50 per cent of tobacco packs and a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
“We commend the House for the passage of this important bill, and we urge the Senate to follow suit to protect the health of all Nigerians, especially our children,” said Akinbode Oluwafemi, Corporate Accountability Director for ERA/FoEN. “By passing this bill, the National Assembly can make the health of Nigerians their legacy.”
Oluwafemi explained that the Senate should avoid delay or deliberation on separate tobacco-related legislation, as it may result in stalling passage of the NTCB as the National Assembly nears the end of its term.
“Studies show that more than 90 per cent of Nigerians support the important protections against tobacco included in this bill,” said CISLAC Executive Director Auwal Rafsanjani. “Our distinguished Senators have the power to affirm the will of the people by making this bill sail through to final passage, and we urge them to act now to show their leadership on this issue.”
The Senate is expected to take up debate on the NTCB as early as 28 April. If the Senate passes the same bill recently affirmed by the House, the need for a Conference Committee is bypassed, allowing the bill to speed to President Johnathan for signature before his term expires. Delay could impede this process, as hundreds of bills have yet to be considered in the few remaining weeks in the legislative session.