In line with a recent submission by its Director-General, Babatunde Irukera, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has began enforcing the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act provision banning sale of cigarettes in single sticks and to minors.
The CPC in a two-day exercise on Thursday, January 24 and Friday, January 25, 2019 in Abuja stormed several locations including the popular Jabi Market and Wuse area where cigarettes are openly sold to patrons in single sticks in contravention of the law which commenced in 2017.
A similar exercise was carried out in bars, lounges, and event centers in the Wuse area.
Owners of facilities where the products were openly sold were educated on the law and told to desist from sale of cigarettes in sticks as well as shisha or would be arrested in the next round of the exercise by the agency.
Ayough Moses of the Surveillance and Enforcement Department of the CPC said that the exercise was carried out after intensive surveillance which identified black spots and showed that there was fragrant violation of the law despite massive awareness that government had carried out in the last one year.
“In enforcing the law, the CPC felt it was very important to warn sellers of cigarettes and also use the medium to educate the ignorant. The exercise was extended to shisha bars because the product is also banned under the NTC Act.”
Moses explained that the exercise which would henceforth be a routine one throughout the nation is to safeguard the health of Nigerians from tobacco harms.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, had in 2017 announced nine provisions of the NTC Act for immediate enforcement. They include ban on single stick sale of cigarettes, ban on sale to minors, ban on smoking in public places, and prosecution of owners/managers of any facility that fails to stop smoking, or encourages it in places it is outlawed, among others.
Reacting to the commencement of enforcement of the Act, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said it is long overdue and is welcomed by Nigerians.
In a telephone chat with EnviroNews, ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “While we commend the CPC for this action, we anticipate that other agencies of government will take a cue.”