Despite initial hiccups, the Nigerian delegation to the Seventh Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) that ended on Saturday in New Delhi, India have expressed satisfaction with the country’s outing.
The delegates, who were in India from November 7-12 2016, had officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Ministry of Finance, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and a civil society representative.
Head of Delegation, Professor Christiana Ukoli, who is chair, National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC), said that the treaty talks were tough but had been very successful in advancing strong mechanisms for implementation of the WHO-FCTC in-country.
“The Nigerian delegation recognised the fact that we represent not only the millions of people who suffer from tobacco-related illnesses but also those the industry targets to conscript into smoking. We have represented Nigeria well and look forward to strengthening the global battle to roll back the tobacco menace,” Ukoli said.
Akinbode Oluwafemi, deputy executive director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), who was also member of the team, said that the Afro region took very strong positions that all nations including Nigeria will implement back home. Nigeria will forge ahead among the committee of nations that have signed, ratified and domesticated the WHO-FCTC, he added.
Oluwafemi said, “We anticipate that the tobacco industry will continue to be a clog in the wheel of progress by trying to infiltrate the talks but we were determined to move along stronger just like every other African party that attended the talks. We expect that, in subsequent meetings, Nigeria will as usual present a strong and united front for strong and effective tobacco regulation in our country.”
Mrs. Elsie Ofili of the Tobacco Products Control Desk, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), said: “The Nigerian team remained focused on the issues throughout the talks. The SON looks forward to implementing its roles to ensure Nigeria’s standards are in sync with the recommendations of the FCTC.”
The meeting in New Delhi had about 180 Parties in attendance. Parties took some of the most authoritative steps since the treaty’s adoption as countries advanced Article 19 – a provision to hold the tobacco industry civilly and criminally liable for its abuses. Litigation against tobacco corporations will compel the industry to pay for the healthcare costs it has caused to countries around the world.
Nigeria passed the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and is currently at the stage of developing regulations for its effective regulation.