3 June 2008

Nigeria: Smoking - Top Officials Defy Govt Order

Barely 48-hour after the ban on smoking in the Federal Capital Territory takes effect, some top government functionaries are yet to comply with the order.

Our correspondent who went round the capital city yesterday observed that the most his areas were the two federal secretariats located at the central district area and Area 1.

A permanent secretary and some directors (name withheld) sent their drivers to buy cigarettes fro them from a vendor near they were accosted by our correspondent.

Attempts to remind them of the ban were rebuffed as they pointedly said, "our oga is too used to cigarette that it is not possible to quit smoking."

On why the man cannot wait until he returns home, the driver laughed, "you are joking. This man takes about 3 packets daily during office hours and he is so used to it that he cannot cope without it. No smoking, no work for him," he added.

We also observed that a vendor who sells cigarettes were going about freely with their business, saying they are waiting to see if it is true that smoking has been banned.

The FCT administration under Minister Aliyu Umar Modibbo, had adopted to enforce the ban on smoking with effect from 1st June, with some penalties for defaulters.

Launching the ban last Saturday, Modibbo said the first schedule specifies prohibition of smoking in cinema, theatre halls, stadium, offices, public transportation, parks and gardens, lifts, medical establishments and schools among other places.

Relying on the Tobacco Control Act of 1990, the law states that, "no person shall as from the commencement of this act, smoke tobacco in the places specified in the first schedule."

The act provides that, "any person who smokes contrary to the provisions of this act shall be guilty of an offence under this act and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N200 and not exceeding N1000 or to imprisonment to a term of not less than one month and not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

According to Modibbo, "the enforcement of the act in Abuja is borne out of concern fro the health and safety of residents and visitors.

Countries like the USA, UK, Kenya among many others have since banned smoking in their domains.

The health implications of smoking are many, which include cancer of the lungs, pancreas, stomach and bladder, heart diseases, asthma and other respiratory ailments.

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