The Federal Government on Monday warned people that smoke tobacco to quit to avoid the risk of being killed by COVID-19 disease.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, while addressing Nigerians in Abuja yesterday at a programme organised to mark the World No Tobacco Day with the theme, ‘Commit to Quit’, said evidence available on the contribution of tobacco to the severity of COVID-19, assisting smokers to quit would improve the way the pandemic was handled.
Ehanire said the government was planning to expand the frontiers in the war against tobacco usage in the country. The minister reiterates that parts of the strategy were to make tobacco products unaffordable, promote increased awareness on risks and increase access to tobacco cessation services.
He said: “The tobacco industry prefers more smokers and encourages long term smoking and has even introduced electronic smoking devices, falsely claimed to be less harmful than the conventional cigarettes.”
Naija News understands that a human rights organisation, under the aegis of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, on Monday said tobacco killed 16,100 smokers in Nigerians annually.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said this in Abuja at a media briefing in commemoration of the 2021 World No Tobacco Day. He said surveys have shown that although 80 per cent of smokers will like to quit smoking.
“Less than five per cent are able to quit on their own due to the highly addictive properties of nicotine,” Rafsanjani noted.
He added: “This calls for clearly defined efforts to help smokers break the addiction to nicotine and quit smoking ultimately rather than relying on the ineffective approach of leaving smokers to quit on their own.”
“Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has one of the leading tobacco markets with over 18 billion cigarettes annually. The WHO data accounts for an estimated 16,100 deaths arising from tobacco use annually in Nigeria.
“As we celebrate the WNTD today, CISLAC is calling on government at all levels in Nigeria to invest in promoting cessation by developing evidence-based and cost-effective strategies.”