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Campaign reveals alarming numbers of child smoking

22 Apr 2019. Activists of the Tobacco Free Nigeria campaign say that 25,000 underage Nigerians, aged 10 to 14, use tobacco products daily, The Nigerian Voice Daily reported.

The campaign calls on the government to stop the increasing numbers of underage smokers in the country by enforcing the law banning the sale of tobacco products to children in Nigeria. The group revealed that 25,000 children between the ages of 10 and 14 in Nigeria consume tobacco products every day. This corresponds to 17 children smoking every minute. This is a result of their relative ease of access to cigarettes and other tobacco related products, which are sold to them by vendors, the report said.

“Children must be protected as they lack agency and are often unwitting targets of the tobacco industry,” Ebiuwa Uwagboe, a campaign specialist at Gatefield, the public strategy group backing the campaign, was quoted as saying. A recent survey released by Gatefield found that one in four vendors sold cigarettes to children in the country.

According to the report, the Nigerian Tobacco act of 2015 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18 but the law is not being implemented or enforced. “While it is important to have the right laws, it is not enough. We need to enforce them now and ensure that National Assembly passes the tobacco control regulations. This is what our campaign aims to do,” Uwagboe added.