A Tobacco Free Nigeria campaign group has disclosed that no fewer than 25,000 underage Nigerians use tobacco products daily. Ms. Ebiuwa Uwagboe, a campaign specialist at Gatefield, the public strategy group backing the campaign disclosed this in a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.
While lamenting, Uwagboe urged the government to enforce the law banning the sale of tobacco products to the underage with a view to checkmating the negative trend. In her statement, she said “Every day, a whooping 25,000 children in Nigeria between the ages of 10 and 14 years use tobacco products, this equates to 17 children smoking every one minute.
“This is a result of the relative ease of their access to cigarettes and other tobacco related products, which are sold to them by vendors,” she said.
She added that smoking had devastating costs including health related ones such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as reduced mental development, especially to the underage children.
“Children must be protected as they lack capacity and are often unwitting targets of the tobacco industry,” she said.
She noted that a recent survey released by Gatefield discovered that one out of every four vendors sold cigarettes to kids in the country. Even as the Nigerian Tobacco act of 2015 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18 but that the law was not being implemented or enforced.
“While it is important to have the right laws, it is not enough. We need to enforce them now and ensure that the National Assembly passes the tobacco control regulations.
“This is what our campaign aims to do,” she added. (NAN)