Thursday, 10 April 2014

FG Proposes 6 Months in Prison or N50k Fine For Smoking in Public


Nigeria’s federal government signified its intention to tighten the noose on tobacco companies operating in Nigeria with the proposal for a new National Draft Tobacco Control Bill 2014 that stipulates a minimum of six months imprisonment or N50,000 or both for individuals that smoke outside public places designated as smoking areas.

The Bill which was approved by the Federal Executive Council at its weekly meeting on Wednesday will be sent to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill for promulgation into law.
While elucidating further on the Bill, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu told journalists that all forms of advertisement of tobacco and sponsorship of any public event is banned under the proposed law.
Also, if passed into law, the Bill will forbid government from accepting gifts from tobacco firms, while 50 per cent of the packaging of cigarettes is expected to be used to warn the public of the risks involved in smoking.
The Minister who noted that the new Bill will replace a similar one promulgated in 2011 which is considered to be weak said government would set up a standing committee that would assist law enforcement agencies in implementing the law.
The Health Minister also revealed that penalties for corporate offenders under the law varied from N1million to N5million and one year to two years imprisonment for the chief executives of such firms.
“The bill is to protect Nigerians against the harmful effects of tobacco. We know that tobacco is dangerous, tobacco is the cause of many deaths and it causes so many illnesses,” said Chukwu who also revealed that a Global Youth Tobacco Survey conducted in 2008 showed that 15 per cent of Nigerian children between 13 years and 15 years are already smoking and another percentage exposed as passive smokers.
He added that the Global Adult Tobacco Survey also indicated that 10 percent of men in Nigeria smoke while 1.1 percent women smoke.

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