Stakeholders Make Case For Safer Nicotine Products to Enhance Public Health in Nigeria

Dec 27, 2023 - 05:50
Dec 27, 2023 - 05:52
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Stakeholders Make Case For Safer Nicotine Products to Enhance Public Health in Nigeria
Professor Nnanyelugo Ike-Muonso

Stakeholders deeply concerned about the escalating hazards linked to tobacco smoking have urged the adoption of alternative cigarette options to pave the way for a smoke-free Nigeria.

A diverse array of stakeholders, encompassing public health experts, scholars, non-governmental organizations, students, and media representatives, voiced this imperative during a collaborative roundtable organized by ValueFrontiea Limited in Ikeja, Lagos State.

In his address as the keynote speaker, Teslim Shitta-Bay emphasized the pressing need for Nigeria to pivot toward non-combustible smoking alternatives to mitigate the health ramifications associated with smoking.

He underscored the urgency of devaluing traditional cigarettes by introducing alternative options capable of delivering comparable satisfaction to smokers while minimizing adverse health effects. This strategic shift aims to foster a smoke-free environment in Nigeria.

In response, Public Health expert Oyekanmi Imoleayo expressed dismay over tobacco's addictive grip, highlighting the undocumented daily deaths among young individuals due to smoking.

"When we consider the broader impact of cigarette use, there are instances where smokers might lead long lives. However, in daily practice, we witness numerous unrecorded deaths of young people linked to smoking. Data indicates a daily toll from smoking-related fatalities.

"The primary driver for smoking is the presence of nicotine in tobacco. Yet, if we can offer alternatives that allow people to sidestep tobacco containing harmful chemicals, we can attain the targeted 5% benchmark for a smoke-free environment."

Addressing the issue, Nnanyelugo Ike-Muonso, President of ValueFrontiea Limited, advocated for Nigeria to emulate Sweden's approach of providing alternative cigarettes instead of contemplating a blanket ban on smoking.

"Nigeria should redouble efforts to combat this issue by drawing lessons from Sweden's successful methods. Sweden is a beacon in the global battle against tobacco and is credited for significantly reducing smoking rates and enhancing public health. The country's strategy involves promoting safer substitutes like smokeless tobacco such as snus and nicotine-based tobacco-free alternatives.

"Sweden's strategy has played a pivotal role in curbing smoking-related illnesses and fatalities. Additionally, if other African countries adopt this approach, combining traditional tobacco control with harm reduction strategies, it could save 15.5 million lives over the next decade. This aligns with Article 1 objectives of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, focusing on supply, demand, and harm reduction strategies," revealed Ike-Muonso.