The Minister of Youth and Development, Jamila Ibrahim has reaffirmed the nation’s commitment to combating tobacco use by youth.
She stated this in Abuja when the Regional Director of the Tobacco Control Programme (AFRO) Campaign for Tobacco–Free Kids, Ms Bintou Camara, paid her a courtesy visit.
According to Ibrahim, tobacco use among youths is a major problem in the country.
The Minister said Nigeria must partner and engage with relevant stakeholders to educate Nigerians about the health consequences of tobacco smoking among young people.
“We will focus on adolescent health. It is the area we need to be proactive in putting mechanisms in place to achieve a preventive approach to tobacco smoking among kids.
“We must work with the act that bans tobacco smoking in public places especially to prevent second-hand smoke,” she said.
Also speaking, Camara said that the organisation was in the country to campaign and educate Nigerians on the danger of tobacco smoking.
“We are the leading advocacy organisations in the world that advocate against tobacco smoking.
“We are focusing on tobacco control.
“Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths that is why it is important that we tackle tobacco prevention,” she said.
According to her, tobacco companies target young people in order to safeguard their profits.
Camara said that it was important to tackle tobacco control because the world was facing an incredible enemy that may affect public health issues.
She said that the organisation had been working for more than 25 years to educate the youths on the danger of tobacco smoking.
“The organisation has fought to protect children and save lives from causes of preventable death.
“Our vision is a future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco. Because tobacco has killed enough,” Camara said.
According to her, it is the tobacco industry that is searching to target young people in order to safeguard profits over public health.
She said that Nigeria was the most important market in Africa and probably the world with a large number of young people in the continent.
“The most important thing for us is to raise awareness and educate youths on the consequences of tobacco use.
“Tobacco smoking has killed eight million people a year and out of the number 1.2m die from second-hand smoke which means you don’t have to be a smoker, you can die from it, suffer from it whether you want it or not,” she said.
Camara said that the country had passed the tobacco smoking law, saying that implementation and enforcement were most important, especially for young people.
She described tobacco as the entryway to other drugs that generate negative consequences which include mental health, loss of productive life, loss of good health and education among others.