NTCA Secures SON Commitment on Effective Tobacco Control in Nigeria
A delegation from the NTCA led by the Chairman, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, on Friday, 29 July, 2022, paid an advocacy visit to the Director General (DG) of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mallam Farouk Salim, and his team, the Acting Deputy Standards, the Director Public Relations, the Deputy Director Human Resources, and the Head of Media at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja. SON is an agency of government responsible for improving lives through products’ standardization and quality assurance, it is also one of the agencies charged with the implementation of provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015.
In 2018, Tobacco Standards by SON banned flavoured tobacco products in Nigeria, however, the tobacco industry was granted two batches of moratorium totaling three years, taking out the policy’s biting force. That policy is due for review.
Mr. Akinbode and members of his delegation (Chibuike Nwokorie, NTCA Project Officer, Michael Olaniyan, Technical Resource Person for West Africa, CTFK and Paul Ashibel, NTCA Communications Officer) praised the agency for the progress recorded on products standardization under the agency’s current leadership.
The delegation remarked that every year 8 million lives are lost globally to tobacco use. Stressing that the meeting had become necessary considering SON’s critical role in the local tobacco control efforts to curb the silent epidemic.
The delegation used the opportunity to request for partnership with SON in areas of mutual interest, especially to ensure effective tobacco control in Nigeria. Some of the specific requests made were:
- That SON should initiate the process of reviewing graphic health warnings on tobacco products as required by the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, and the Regulations of 2019, which is due by June 2023.
- That SON should beam its light on novel tobacco products in the Nigerian market.
- That SON should work closely with the Tobacco Control Community, the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Customs Service, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and other agencies of government for wholesome tobacco control in Nigeria.
- That SON should work with stakeholders to develop local standards for the health wrecking Shisha and other novel tobacco products.
In his response, the Director General who was impressed by the visit noted that the civil society is a critical partner in the agency’s work.
Mallam Farouk acknowledged that Shisha is a big public health problem, he therefore urged the NTCA to work with SON, CSOs and other agencies of government to form a technical committee to review the product (shisha) with view to making standards for the product. He also hinted on the review of SON standards on the ban of flavoured cigarettes in Nigeria which will be faithfully implemented.
Both parties agreed to pursue the rekindled partnership with vigor for the betterment of all Nigerians.