The Lagos Anti-Smoking Bill


A bill against public smoking in public in Lagos state, southwest Nigeria, may soon be passed by the state House of Assembly. We only hope the bill will not end up like the several others that have been passed without proper implementation.

The bill which is long overdue for a state densely populated as Lagos stipulates stiff penalties in the form of payment of fines and or imprisonment for any resident found guilty of smoking in areas of the state designated as ‘No-Smoking Area’. It also gives residents the privilege to monitor their neighbours and report anyone who disobeys the law when eventually passed.

Giving a candid argument in support of the bill recently, its initiator, Gbolahan Yishawu, representing Eti-Osa Constituency 2 said the proposed law was aimed at preventing non-smokers in the state against being forced to consume smoke through the lackadaisical habit of the addicted smokers.

To say the least, therefore, this proposed law is very important for the protection of the environment, the society and the lives of non-smokers who are daily subjected to dangerous health conditions by careless smokers.

Several international health agencies have continued to reel out staggering statistics which show that smokers cut their lifespan by at least 10 years.

One such report states that smoking increases at least by 20 per cent annually in the developing world like Nigeria and in Lagos, two persons die daily from consumption of tobacco and its related diseases.

According to the state government, in the year 2006 alone, there were 9527 reported cases of tobacco related diseases in Lagos State hospitals. The state government spends at least N316,000 per month on each of these cases.

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More worrisome is the fact that non-smokers too are not spared from the dangerous habit of smokers as second-hand smoke is more dangerous in some circumstances.

Every individual has a choice to either live a healthy lifestyle or kill himself through actions considered unwholesome, but he should be restrained from endangering the lives of others with his habit. This is why we wholeheartedly support the bill.

However, our pessimism stems from the fact that several unsuccessful efforts have been made in the past to discourage smoking in public. In 1990, the General Ibrahim Babangida-led military administration came up with the Tobacco (Control) Act 1990 CAP. T16 Laws of the Federation. This did not work.

Not satisfied with poor implementation of the act, the National Assembly came up with the National Tobacco Control Bill 2009 which was passed and sent to President Goodluck Jonathan for assent. The law is aimed at regulating the manufacturing, advertising, distribution and consumption of tobacco products in Nigeria. Yet, this has not met the target.

On 20 October, 2009, the Osun State House of Assembly passed a bill to prohibit smoking in public places and to provide for the regulation or control of smoking in public places in the state. Have residents of the state stopped smoking in public? The simple answer is obvious.

Back here in Lagos, it is quite known that the laws churned out by the state Assembly have always witnessed poor implementation or no implementation at all. The Tenancy Law of the state is a case in point. When the House passed the Road Traffic Law, many residents argued that the zeal expressed by the state government which initiated the law would die down. And now commercial motorcyclists are back on some of the banned routes while the police have continued to enrich themselves. The noise pollution through the unrestrained use of public address system at the motor park is still going on.

Therefore, the state must not see this as one of the other laws. It must take the welfare of citizens with every seriousness which this proposal is being given accelerated process of passage by the House. It must ensure modalities for its successful implementation.

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