The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has commended the federal government for ratifying the protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products.
With Nigeria's depositing of the instrument of ratification at the World Health Organisation (WHO), it becomes the 51st country to ratify the treaty which was initiated in 2012.
The protocol, under the auspices of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) aims to eliminate all forms of illicit trade in tobacco products and provides tools for preventing illicit trade by securing the supply chain, including by establishing an international tracking and tracing system. It will also counter illicit trade through dissuasive law enforcement measures and a suite of measures to enable international cooperation.
The protocol proper contains provisions that requires, inter alia: the licensing of all entities involved in tobacco supply chains; Tobacco companies to apply due diligence measures to its customers; secure track and trace of tobacco products and production controls in factories; record-keeping obligations in respect of tobacco manufacturing equipment; and, restrictions on the sale or purchase of tobacco manufacturing equipment.
In a statement issued in Lagos by ERA/FoEN's Philip Jakpor, the body said that though the deposit of the ratification instrument at the World Health Organisation (WHO) was coming more than 10 months after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved it going forward, it was still commendable as a checkmate to smuggling of cigarettes that the tobacco industry permits to remain in business.
ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: "The Nigerian government deserves kudos for this feat that will ensure all loopholes that the tobacco industry has exploited to over-supply cigarettes to targeted markets to engender illicit profits are blocked. With the ratified protocol we can now track every single stick of cigarette to the manufacturer."
The ERA/FoEN boss said that beyond the ratification, the eighth National Assembly should act fast to approve Regulations for the full enforcement of the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act, 2015 as a legacy achievement.
"We remind the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki of his words two years ago, that government at all levels must now act fast in rejecting the ploy to make Nigeria a dumping ground for tobacco products that pre-disposes the nation's citizens, especially the young people, to diseases, disability and ultimately death", he said.