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Nigerians Smoke 7 Million Cigarettes Daily

Source: Bashir Kalejaiye
Thursday, January 25, 2001

With a record 3.5 million out of 9 million Nigerian smoking 20 sticks of cigarettes daily, former Health Minister, Professor Olikoye Ransome-Kuti says, Nigerians smoke close to 7 million sticks of cigarettes daily. This adds up to 49 million sticks a week, or 196 million sticks a month.

Professor Kuti said that his figures are based on an Expert Committee on Non-communicable diseases report set by the Federal Health Authorities in 1988. The report then certified that 4.5 million Nigerians were smokers. The cigarette he says contains 4,000 poisonous chemicals which are carcinogenic. These chemicals, he said, damage the eyes, nose and throat with infections. Carbon monoxide, a component of the smoke, he said, enters the blood stream where it combines with haemoglobin to form carbohaemoglobin, a substance which interferes with the body's ability to obtain and use oxygen from blood.

To hasten and deepen addiction, Professor Kuti said that many cigarette manufacturers increase the cigarettes' nicotine content artificially. In a survey of 1,000 smokers in the USA, fewer than 20% succeed in trying to give up on the habit [82% of Smokers Want to Quit].

The former health minister said that cigarette manufacturers seek to lure children and adolescents into the smoking habit early in their lives. The earlier the habit starts the more they are addicted and the longer they continue to smoke.

Live musical shows, football matches, TV adverts depicting smoking as masculine and fashionable he said are the traps. Providing colourful kiosks and mini-marts for petty traders are also devices at play to lure more and more people into the deadly habit of smoking.

During his tenure as health minister a law against smoking was enacted. The former health minister under the regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, said that warnings such as "Cigarette smokers are liable to die young" and "The Federal Ministry of Health warns that tobacco smoking is dangerous to health" has not deprived youths of the love for the smoke.

He also said that the overwhelming influence of the multi-national tobacco companies has ensured this negative development. Professor Kuti said: "People have asked me, do you think that decree (banning smoking in public places) will work? And I said it would only work if it is used as peer pressure." The former health minister said that if many smokers have been turned back with their cigarette sticks, the law would have made a greater impact now. In a related development Gordon Osuyah, the coordinator of Save Africa From Tobacco and Drug Abuse, told P.M. News that 60% of Nigerian undergraduates smoke while about 75% of the population of young people aged 35 and below will die from smoking related ailments. He said 65% of those on the "death roll" are from developing countries such as Nigeria.

He called for a ban on all forms of radio/TV adverts about tobacco, a ban on display of all billboards advertising tobacco and a ban on the sale of cigarettes in schools and near school premises.


Most Nigerian Undergraduates Smoke - Xinhua/NewsEdge
Some 60 percent of Nigerian undergraduate students smoke under the negative influence of the publicity campaigns of the multi-national tobacco companies, the News Agency of Nigeria reported Thursday. The cigarette manufacturers use musical shows, football matches, television advertisements to depict smoking as masculine and fashionable to lure children and adolescents in developing countries into the smoking habit, Nigerian former Health Minister Olikoye Ransome-Kuti was quoted as saying. Statistics show that "cigarette smokers are liable to die young,", Ransome-Kuti warned, urging a ban on all forms of radio and television advertisements on tobacco, and a ban on the sale of cigarettes in schools.
(Dateline: LAGOS, Friday, January 26, 2001)