An advocacy group, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), has attributed the addictive nature of tobacco consumption to the amount of nicotine contained.
Nicotine is one of the components of tobacco and the group has said the high volume is one of the reason smokers find it difficult to quit tobacco use, despite the dangers associated with it.
Some of the diseases associated with tobacco smoking includes; stroke, coronary heart disease, cataract, leukemia, cancers of the lungs, esophagus, kidney and stomach.
According to the world tobacco report, almost one billion men and 250 million women are daily smokers. Currently, 6 million people die each year from tobacco use.
The report projected that 8 million people will die a year from tobacco use and 80% of those deaths will occur in developing countries by 2030.
Okeke Anya, Senior Programme Officer, CISLAC, told journalists in a workshop entitled: Supporting Tobacco Control Measures in Nigeria, on Thursday in Ikeja, that nicotine is very addictive, that is why the repeated warning about the dangers of cigarette smoking will continue to fall on deaf ears.
He said except smokers became born-again and quit smoking or doctors strictly warn their patients to quit, it may be near impossible for smokers quitting.
“Because of the volume of nicotine in tobacco, smokers are addicted to it in spite of the inherent dangers associated with smoking, they find it difficult to quit,” Anya said.
He is of the opinion that more effort should be done to help smokers see the damage tobacco is doing to their health. Otherwise, nothing much may be achieved.
According to a 2011 study by the University of Michigan, “without more action by African nations to discourage smoking, the percentage of smokers will rise from an average 16% to 22% and possibly as high as 27% by 2030.
“The study also estimates that if strong tobacco control policies are put in place, including a 100% tax increase, smoking prevalence will decrease to 11% by 2030”.
He advised that government should ensure the reduction of nicotine level by tobacco manufacturers, cigarette packaging be stopped to make it unattractive to smokers and those who flout tobacco laws are seen to be punished to serve as deterrent.
Anya said the federal government must back the 2015 tobacco act by the necessary laws and ensure their enforcement by the relevant agencies.
The 2015 tobacco act among other things aimed at protecting Nigerians and residents of the devastating consequences of use and exposure to tobacco and tobacco products and prohibition of smoking in public places including penalties for non-compliance.
According to Anya, tobacco is a legal product which cannot be banned otherwise, clamouring for its ban will end in futility.
“For us as Nigerians, tobacco consumption is about health issue, irrespective of the argument that tobacco companies provide jobs, the question is, if Nigerians eventually die of tobacco consumption either as smokers or third party smokers who will assume those jobs,” he queried.
He said CISLAC has been meeting with the relevant authorities on the enforcement of the 2015 tobacco act and therefore call on the health minister to as a matter of urgency, create the necessary laws that will strengthen the act.
On his part, Austin Erameh, a facilitator at CISLAC said the group is on a high level advocacy to ensure Nigerians are educated on the dangers of tobacco use.
To ensure this, he said CISLAC will be having a three level engagements; with the media at the six geo-political group, the civil society groups and the executive and legislative arms of government.