Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Our Tobacco Control Appeal to the Hon. Minister of Health

Since the current administration began in 2011, there has been a deliberate effort at presenting a scorecard of its work come May every year. This year was no exception as each minister in the federal cabinet made presentations on the work over the past year and its impact on the lives of Nigerians.

The Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu made his presentation on June 13, 2013 as part of the 2013 Ministerial Platform to showcase the mid-term achievements of the current GEJ administration in the health sector. One of this is the eradication of guinea worm in Nigeria for which the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued Nigeria a certificate to be presented later in 2013.

However, while we celebrate this, we wish to call attention to an issue we believe needs to be treated with greater urgency as we seek to protect the health of Nigerians without discrimination. This is none other than the enactment of a Tobacco Control Bill in Nigeria.

In July 2012, Mr. President delegated to a team of ministers led by the Hon. Minister of Health, the task of drafting a new executive bill on Tobacco Control for proper legislation. This was after the efforts pre-2011 has failed to get Presidential approval for the bill passed by both chambers of the legislative arm of government in that session.

On June 14, 2013, while making his presentation at the 2013 Ministerial Platform, the Hon. Minister of Health was widely quoted as saying 'smoking will soon be banned in Nigeria as the Federal Government could no longer condone smoking.'

On Saturday 20th  July 2013, President Jonathan speaking in Abuja said that a revised anti-tobacco bill that provides tougher control on use is ready for legislative action. According to him, the Attorney General of the Federation has concluded work on the bill, while the Federal Executive Council would soon give a final approval for onward presentation to the National Assembly. He also gave the assurance of ample political will to ensure the bill becomes law.

These statements were widely reported in the media without any rebuttals from the Presidency nor the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu.

It is therefore of great concern that in spite of all these words, the team assigned by the President to draft a new bill on Tobacco Control (aka Anti-Tobacco) Bill and led by the Hon. Minister of Health is yet to submit its work to the President & the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for deliberations and onward passage to the National Assembly by the President.

While it is true work has been concluded on drafting the bill, failure to present such before FEC to deliberate and approve for onward passage to the National Assembly has become a critical cog in the wheel of making the draft bill into law.

Knowing this is the first step with others following as outlined in our legislative process, we are therefore appealing to the Hon. Minister for Health to finish the task assigned to his team by leading the charge in ensuring the draft bill is presentation before FEC without delay and approved so it can move onto consideration by the Senate & House of Representatives. This is our CLARION CALL!

To join us in making this strong appeal to the Hon. Minister of Health, add your voice by visiting his facebook page, like our post, drop your comments and share widely with others. Lets help make Nigeria a SMOKE-FREE zone TODAY

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