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Nigeria And Tobacco Industry Interference – CAPPA

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), in its latest report on the state of the tobacco industry interference in Nigeria, has revealed a marked increase in the industry’s meddling in public health policies, in particular, tobacco control measures.

Nigeria And Tobacco Industry Interference – CAPPA
Nigeria And Tobacco Industry Interference – CAPPA

CAPPA disclosed this at the Press Briefing and Launch of the Nigeria Tobacco Industry Interference Index, which shows Nigeria’s ratings dropped from 53 points in 2021 to 60 in 2023.

According to the report, the main deterioration is manifest in the Nigerian government’s challenges and failure to adhere to transparency mechanisms and disclosure of exchanges with the Industry as mandated by the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.

According to the report, the main deterioration is manifest in the Nigerian government’s challenges and failure to adhere to transparency mechanisms and disclosure of exchanges with the Industry as mandated by the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.

These breaches, it noted, are exploited maximally by the tobacco industry to interfere in public health policies and deliberations.

To address these challenges, the report urged the Nigerian government to implement the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 fully and also review ambiguities in the law so they do not provide revolving doors that the tobacco industry can exploit to interfere in public health and other policies of the government.

‘‘The Nigerian government must work to ensure that public officials in relevant ministries, departments, and agencies sign conflict-of-interest forms periodically to remind them of commitments or obligations that may compromise their office and operations,’’ said Zikora Ibeh, Policy and Research Officer of CAPPA.

Additionally, the report also tasked state authorities to build intergovernmental synergy at all levels by establishing clear protocols for the full disclosures of minutes and proceedings from meetings and interactions with the tobacco industry.

It also advised relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to consistently update their websites and other information platforms to facilitate the easy dissemination of information and engender transparency.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: ‘‘Whilst Nigeria’s National Tobacco Control Act and its Regulations have largely checked the activities of tobacco corporations and entities, the industry has exploited some weaknesses in these laws and gaps in the system to interfere in tobacco control.’’

Oluwafemi explained that the report findings show that, despite existing policies, the government’s reluctance to fully disclose interactions with the tobacco industry continues to hinder progress in tobacco control efforts.

We strongly urge the government, particularly the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), to act as a bulwark for the health of Nigerians and discard any ideas or proposals to legitimize these products that will further corrupt and pose a significant threat to the public health of Nigerians.

The undue influence of the tobacco industry is further reflected in and entrenched through their so-called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities, where they sponsor social and economic initiatives that are not only celebrated in the media but also endorsed by the government at different levels. A notable instance is BATNF’s 2021 partnership with the National Youth Service Corps, a federal government scheme to empower young agricultural farmers financially.

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