Activists in Nigeria under the umbrella of the Tobacco Free Nigeria Campaign group has called on the government as a matter of urgency implement the law prohibiting the sales of Tobacco and Tobacco related products to underage youths or face the danger that lies ahead.
The group says no fewer than 25,000 underage Nigerians use tobacco products daily, which equates to 17 children smoking every one minute.
Ebiuwa Uwagboe, a campaign specialist at Gatefield, the public strategy group backing the campaign disclosed this in a statement calling on the Nigerian government to enforce the law banning the sale of tobacco products to the underage to check such smokers in the country.
“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.
Uwagboe added that smoking among teenagers had devastating consequences including health related ones such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases as well as reduced mental development.
“Children must be protected as they lack capacity and are often unwitting targets of the tobacco industry,” she said.
Acknowledging the Nigerian Tobacco act of 2015 which prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18, Uwagboe stressed 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.