The Edo State Government has expressed concern over 16,100 Nigerians killed annually by tobacco, calling for urgent measures and partnerships among relevant stakeholders to check its consumption and reduce the health and other risks associated with tobacco use.
Permanent Secretary, Edo State Ministry of Health, Dr. Osamwonyi Irowa said this while briefing journalists in Benin City in commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day, marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other organs to raise awareness and check the consumption of tobacco.
According to him, “The WHO reports that tobacco kills over 8 million people each year and more than 7 million of these deaths are as a result of direct tobacco use, while around 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.
“The Tobacco Atlas 2018 report for Nigeria, estimates more than 16,100 annual deaths from tobacco-related diseases. Also, a research published in 2021 by the Centre for the Study of the Economics of Africa showed that 29,472 deaths were attributable to smoking. It is also pertinent to note that tobacco is the major risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and is associated with higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 outcomes and death.”
Irowa said the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘Commit to Quit’ is apt as WHO has set a target of supporting at least 100 million people worldwide in their attempt to quit the use of tobacco by adopting various initiatives such as digital solutions.
Irowa said the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has keyed into the concept of supporting people in the State in quitting tobacco as WHO’s findings have shown that many tobacco users are willing to quit the habit and therefore need support.
He noted: “The State Government is ever committed to support the Federal Ministry of Health with the WHO on the roll out of Nigeria Tobacco Control Communication Plan, the toll-free line for tobacco cessation in Nigeria and the WhatsApp cessation service, which will be launched by the Honourable Minister of Health today in Abuja.
“Today as we observe World No Tobacco Day, I call on people of all ages, especially the young, to join the fight against the tobacco epidemic. I encourage youth groups to build a movement for a tobacco free generation.
“I urge our celebrities and influencers to join their voices on tobacco cessation; I call on parents, caregivers and teachers to educate children on the harmful effects of tobacco products and the need to stop for those already using it.”
“I want to assure you that the Government of Edo State will continue to implement comprehensive tobacco policies as outlined in the National and WHO framework convention on Tobacco control to help reduce the morbidity and mortality from tobacco use,” he added.