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25% of cigarette vendors in Nigeria sell to children – Why the #tobaccovsthepeople survey matters 

Healthcare

25% of cigarette vendors in Nigeria sell to children – Why the #tobaccovsthepeople survey matters 

A new survey has revealed that at least one out of every four vendors in Nigeria engage in the sale of cigarettes to persons under the age of 18. The survey titled: “Tobacco vs the People” was conducted by anti-tobacco advocates using Kenyan crowd-mapping tool – Ushahidi –  and with the support of public affairs firm Gatefield, and the DC-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Why it matters

Nigeria’s National Tobacco Control Act 2015 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to and by minors but it has not yet been effectively enforced and the results of the survey clearly present this gap. Fulling enforcing this provision of the law should be a top priority for the government considering the implications on the future generation who are being actively targeted by the Tobacco Industry. Another report titled ‘Big Tobacco, Tiny Targets” revealed that 87% of Nigerian schools surveyed had a tobacco point of sale within 100 meters of the school premises.

Find some of the key takeaways from this report of the survey covering 2,088 POS outlets across four states (Ekiti, Benin, Abuja, and Katsina):

  • 25% of vendors surveyed sold cigarettes to minors.
  • Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, had the highest prevalence of Tobacco sales to minors with almost half (49.6%) of the vendors reported having sold cigarettes to minors. The second highest was Ekiti state in the southwest with (43%). Katsina had the lowest prevalence (1.3%) while Benin in the Southern State of Edo had the second lowest prevalence (7%).
  • Almost half of the vendors (41%) are unaware of the law banning the sale of Tobacco to minors

What the stakeholders are saying:

– Per Dr. Malau Mangai Toma, head of the Tobacco Control Unit at the Federal Ministry of Health: “We are working on effective regulations to ensure that the objectives of that act are achieved. Tobacco control is multi-sectorial; all agencies would have to collaborate to enhance the control of tobacco. We have to bring all the stakeholders on board to see to the effective enforcement of this law.”

–  Hilda Ochefu, West African Regional Co-ordinator of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids: “The people that have been smoking for the past 10, 20 years are going to get sick at some point and die. So Africa has the population to provide the tobacco companies the much-needed smokers. As we continue with the campaign across the continent, governments are stepping up but not as much as they should. We know that some countries have passed laws like Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria, but most of them are not actually effective in implementing these laws because of the deviances of the tobacco companies.”

– Temitope Rotimi, Tobacco Activist from Ekiti who participated in the mapping said, “Those who sell Cigarettes to minors are mostly men. I discovered that women don’t sell to minors.”

Bottom line: In the week of World Cancer Day, this report is quite an important one given the fact that Tobacco is the highest risk factor for cancer according to the World Health Organisation. The Nigerian government and all the stakeholders as a whole have to come together to protect the next generation.

Go Deeper: Read the full Tobacco vs The People report

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