In continuation of its enforcement of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act which commenced in January 2019, the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) this week carried out a raid of lounges, bars and open markets in Port Harcourt and Lagos where cigarettes and shisha are openly sold.
The nine provisions of the NTC Act that the CPC is enforcing that do not require regulations are provisions that ban sale of cigarettes in single sticks. Others are:
- Prohibition of sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below 18 years
- Smokeless tobacco which shall be sold in a minimum of a pack of 30 grams
- A person shall not sell or offer to sell or distribute tobacco or tobacco products through mail, internet or other online devices
- Prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues
- Prohibition of smoking in public places
- Ban owner or manager of any of the places listed, who permits, encourages or fails to stop smoking in the above listed places
- Ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship of any kind
- For tobacco products to comply with specified standard for content as set out by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON).
The penalty for any of the violations includes fines and prison terms
In the enforcement exercise in Port Harcourt, the CPC conducted the exercise in concert with men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The first areas visited were around the popular Waterline Motorpark, where the team met traders and retailers around Bob Izua motor park, the River State Transport Company and Elechi Neighbourhood.
The team also covered streets leading to Sanni Abacha Way in GRA Phase 2 in the center of the city.
Lounges visited for enforcement of shisha ban include: Ace Lounge, Kelly Sport Bar, Casablance Bar, and Cubana Lounge, among others.
During the Lagos exercise, the CPC went on the operation with the Nigeria Police in areas around the popular old Ojota Motorpark and adjoining motor parks. The team also visited Classique Lounge and Vibe Lounge in Oregun where shisha is sold to patrons.
The CPC action is coming nearly two years after the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, announced nine provisions of the NTC Act that would not require regulations for its enforcement. This means that agencies of government enforcing the law would not need the nod of the National Assembly and other bureaucracies to carry out enforcement.
Meanwhile, the exercise by the CPC has been commended by the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), which in a press briefing organised in Lagos said that the agency should not rest on its oars as it embarks on the national assignment of safeguarding the health of Nigerians.
Programme Coordinator of NTCA, Oluseun Esan, said: “We are delighted that enforcement started in Abuja in January and has been extended to Lagos and Port Harcourt. We commend the CPC for taking the lead and ask that other agencies also join.” Esan however explained that full enforcement of the Act would only occur when the National Assembly approves the National Tobacco Control Regulations which the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved in June 2018.