The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has commenced the enforcement of graphic health warnings on tobacco products.
The event was organized in collaboration with the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA).
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Briefing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja during the enforcement carried out against tobacco traders in Jabi, FCT, Abuja, the Assistant Director, Legal, Surveillance and Enforcement of FCCPC, Akoji Achimugu, said the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act was enacted in 2015 to regulate the manufacture and use of tobacco in the country and to reduce to the bare minimum the effects of tobacco on public health.
Achimugu said that to set the provisions of the Act in motion, the National Tobacco Control Regulations were gazetted in 2019.
He said, “The law (NTC Act, 2015 and NTC Regulations, 2019) requires tobacco products imported, manufactured or distributed in Nigeria to have graphic health warnings on 50 percent of the principal display area of the product’s packaging.
“It also specifies that the picture used must be of the highest quality and must clearly depict the negative effects of tobacco on the health of smokers and those close to them.”
Achimugu said the regulations provided for an 18-month moratorium after its gazetting, before commencement of enforcement.
“The regulations were gazetted on 23rd December 2018, setting the date for commencement of enforcement for 23rd June 2021. However, the moratorium was extended by 150 days to enable the tobacco industry to comply with the requirements of the Act on pictorial warnings,” he said.
On the level of compliance, the FCCPC said, “So we have a list of about 10 products and about seven or eight of them are in compliance. And then we also found a few about two or three out of the 10 products we have seen so far that are not exactly in compliance.”
According to him, the Act provide fines or sanctions for violations.
He said, “So, it is either they don’t have a health warning or they have it in the way that it doesn’t meet the prescribed form. So, for example if it doesn’t carry a picture, because the warning is not just to be written, but also pictorial to serve the purpose for those who cannot read, at least they can see.”
The Executive Director CAPPA, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that the commencement of the exercise shows that the law was not just passed for passing sake and that the nation have lots to gain in health and well-being of the citizenry.