In continuation of its campaign to drum up support for the enforcement of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and a host of of other civil society groups in Abuja have solicited the support of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). ERA/FoEN and the groups on Thursday August 30, 2018 had an outreach with corps members in Abuja where they said the corps members and officials of the body were strategic in tobacco control because of the large youth population that must be won to tobacco control causes or left to be captured by tobacco multinationals. Philip Jakpor, ERA/FoEN head of media and campaigns explained that the engagement was necessary to add the voice of the NYSC to the critical mass advocating the speedy enforcement of the NTC Act which was signed into law in 2015. Jakpor explained that similar outreaches had been organised in Enugu and Lagos and would be replicated in other states of the country where the tobacco addiction was assuming alarming proportions.
In her remarks, Hilda Ochefu of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) praised the NYSC for imbuing the consciousness of moral values and hard work on the youths but explained that the tobacco multinationals operating in Nigeria, just like in other parts of the world, are targeting the same youths as replacement smokers for a dying generation of addicts.
She said that the seriousness of the tobacco menace is the driving force behind the CTFK’s partnership with civil society and other groups across the world to ensure the timely adoption of life saving laws that would nip a looming health disaster in the bud.
Oluseun Esan of the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), in his intervention said that the youths are particularly targeted by the tobacco industry resulting to increased cancer rates, heart diseases and strokes, among others. Esan revealed that Nigeria is a major target of the tobacco multinationals because of its huge youth population that are adventurous and can easily be lured into social vices. Speaking on Checkmating the Tobacco Menace through the National Tobacco Control Act, deputy executive director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi said that despite the no smoking campaigns in schools, tobacco addiction remained high and this has necessitated a far reaching law which the NTC Act represents.
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