The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, NTCA, last Thursday, paid a courtesy visit to the new leadership of Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria, APCON, Abuja, with a call for the regulatory body to ban tobacco advertisements.
The NTCA team led by Programme Manager, Olu’Seun Esan, congratulated Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, Ihe newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Council, and commended APCON for its longstanding commitment to public health and tobacco control in Nigeria.
Esan said that Fadolapo’s appointment was coming at a crucial time that Nigeria needs her best; he was of the view that the new helmsman of the organisation was bringing on board his wealth of experience in advertising practice.
While wishing him good health and fruitful tenure in the Council, the NTCA seized the opportunity to advocate the enforcement of the total prohibition of Tobacco Advertising Promotion and Sponsorship, TAPS, in Nigeria.
Esan highlighted the dangers of tobacco in all its forms to public health and safety and emphasised why all stakeholders must not be deterred.
He added that tobacco is the leading cause of non-communicable diseases and death worldwide; about 16,100 lives are lost to tobacco every year in Nigeria beside the economic loss due to tobacco-induced morbidity and diseases in the country.
He said: “The tobacco industry goes all out to target the youths and children as replacement smokers for its customers, most of whom would eventually have tobacco-induced diseases or die.
“They do this through subtle advertisements and product placements specifically targeting the youths and children.”
Mr. Michael Olaniyan, the Technical Resource Person for West Africa, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CTFK, who was also part of the NTCA delegation stated that “The National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and its Regulations of 2019 is aimed at protecting the present and future generations of Nigerians and residents of Nigeria from the devastating health, social, economic and environmental consequences of use and exposure to tobacco and tobacco products.
“The policies also seek to promote and protect Nigerians and residents’ right to health, life, physical integrity, safe and healthy workplace and other rights adversely impacted by tobacco and its products.”
In the same light, Mr. Olaniyan explained that “The law prohibits all forms of tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship as clearly stated in Sections 12-14 of the Act.”
He said it is therefore “important that APCON enforced the prohibition in the creative and advertising industry.”
The delegation used the opportunity to further expatiate on the roles of APCON in implementing the prohibition of TAPS and requested for a stronger partnership with tobacco control advocates and initiatives in the country.
In response, Fadolapo reiterated APCON’s commitment in ensuring that tobacco advertisements and promotions do not find their way into the advertising space.
He said that APCON was ready to partner with NTCA and other stakeholders in furthering tobacco control, even as he urged the alliance to continue to amplify its activities in the media to reach the entire populace.
He promised that the Council would be willing to collaborate with the Alliance on content creation and any other way necessary, adding also that the tobacco menace should be a cause of concern for everyone in the society in view of the great risk it poses to the well-being of the society and especially the youth population.
The Head, Legal Department of APCON, Mr. Chukwudi Ezeaba, cited examples of how the Council wielded the big stick on several occasions in the past and how the industry had to comply with the law because of the Council’s position.
In attendance were Mrs. Ijedi Iyoha, immediate past Acting Registrar, and present Deputy Director Regulations, Monitoring and Enforcement; Mallam Ahmed Yelwa, Zonal Head, APCON North Central; Mr. Emmanuel Ojo, Head, Admin and Personnel, and Mr. Chukwudi Ezeaba, Head, Legal).
The NTCA team also had NTCA Programme Officer, Chibuike Nwokorie and Logistics Officer, Victor Oluwafemi in attendance.