Bill proposes N50,000 fine, jail sentence for smokers
The Federal Executive Council yesterday approved the Draft Tobacco Control Bill 2014 that would subject smokers to a N50,000 fine and six-month imprisonment.
Addressing journalists after the FEC meeting, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said the proposed National Tobacco Control Act was aimed at protecting Nigerians against harmful effects of tobacco.
He said tobacco causes cancer as well as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
The minister, who noted that certain public places would be designated non-smoking areas, said when the bill becomes law, any individual caught smoking there would pay a N50,000 fine or combine it with a six month imprisonment.
He said any company that allows its staff or visitors to smoke in a similar area would be fined between N1 million and N5 million, while its chief executive would be sentenced to two-year imprisonment.
“The responsibility, for instance, in a hotel, rests on the owner to clearly indicate areas that are non-smoking so that if you ever decide to go to a place that has been clearly designated nonsmoking area, you’ll be liable to being prosecuted and then the law will take its course. The same thing (applies) with modes of transportation like land, railway, sea, air.”
The minister said; “advertisement (of tobacco) is totally banned under this law so you cannot just go and advertise.”
Any firm of advertisement is not permitted, either in broadcast, print, outdoor, he said.
The bill is also looking at packaging of tobacco products. Fifty percent of the package is expected to warn people about the use of tobacco.
Chukwu said the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act 2011 (as amended) passed by the National Assembly were weak and the executive had resolved to re-work it and transmit it to the legislature.
The minister, who hinted that Tobacco Control Fund would be established, said the proposed law would ban every form of sponsorship by any tobacco company of any public event.
From left: Nasarawa State Governor Umaru Tanko Al-Makura, flanked by U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mr James Entwistle (left) and his wife Pamela during the envoy’s visit to Lafia yesterday.