Over 20 billion sticks of cigarettes are consumed annually in Nigeria, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has said.
Mr Adewole also said 4.5 million adults currently use tobacco products, while about 82 per cent of people who visit bars and nightclubs are exposed to second-hand smoke.
The minister, who spoke during a press briefing organised to mark the 2018 World No-Tobacco day celebration in Abuja on Monday, said in 2015, the country’s projected accumulated loss to tobacco was put at $7.6 billion.
The “World No Tobacco Day” is celebrated annually on May 31. This year’s World No Tobacco Day theme is “Tobacco and Heart Disease.”
“Let me draw attention to the fact that tobacco use is responsible for huge economic losses emanating from both direct and indirect medical costs,” Mr Adewole said.
“It is estimated that Nigeria losses $800 million annually to stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
“In 2015, the projected accumulated loss to tobacco was put at $7.6 billion,” he said.
He said for every $1 gained from tobacco business, about $3 is expended on healthcare cost, noting that the tobacco industry makes huge profit without taking responsibility for the harm they do to public health.
Speaking on the trending shisha (flavoured tobacco) among young Nigerians, Mr Adewole said the country would not accept tobacco consumption in whatever disguise, as there is a need to protect the future of the country.
“A key outcome of this review was the ban on all characterising flavours including the addition of menthol into tobacco products.
“This decision is to protect our children from getting enticed by flavoured tobacco products. Let me stress that the ban on tobacco products with characterising flavour is still in place and the ban includes shisha because it has flavour.
“I therefore urge the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the law enforcement agencies to intensify arrest of defaulters,” he said.
In his speech at the event, the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Wondi Alemu, said tobacco control is one of the most effective means to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which target, by 2030, premature deaths from non-communicable diseases.
He said the elimination of tobacco use will help to prevent millions of people dying from non-communicable diseases.
“On average, tobacco users lose 15years of life. In the African Region, about 146,000 adults, aged 30 years and above, die every year from tobacco related diseases,” he said.
To further discourage tobacco consumption and increase government revenue, Nigeria increased tax on tobacco products, as well as alcoholic beverages. The new tax regime commenced on Monday.