One in four vendors of cigarettes and other tobacco products sell to minors (persons below the age of 18) in Nigeria. The finding was made in a Tobacco Sales Violation survey report titled “Tobacco vs The People”.
Nigeria has since passed a law, the National Tobacco Control Act 2015, which prohibits among others – tobacco sales to and by minors; sale of cigarettes in single sticks; and Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship. The survey was a result of a crowdsourcing campaign involving volunteers who mapped about 2,088 points of sale including Kiosks, Restaurants, Bars, Supermarkets and other retail outlets across various parts of the urban cities in the four selected States in Nigeria including Edo, Ekiti, Katsina and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Gatefield, a public affairs and strategy firm, in partnership with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, managed the crowdsourcing effort which was conducted with Kenyan mapping platform Ushaidi. The Volunteers first observed the POS outlets for at least 10 minutes prior to the face-to-face interviews conducted with the vendors.
The study presents an alarming scenario that every stakeholder must consider as a matter of urgency. Not only does a quarter of our minors have access to killer tobacco products, there is a sense that there are no consequences for the violations of the law. This is why awareness must be ramped up. But beyond that, awareness creation must be followed by strong political will by the implementers to enforce these and all other provisions of the law.
Already, the Nigerian government through the Consumer Protection Council, has recently taken the right step forward by carrying out enforcement exercises in two public parks and Wuse market in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Other implementing agencies are urged to take this line of action and in a manner that ensures that citizens are onboard.
This report presents more questions that policy makers and stakeholders should interrogate. For instance, the lack of support for the ban of sale in single sticks should be understood with the aim of using the insights to achieve more support and compliance with the law as it is true that implementation cannot be done in one day. However, there is no better step than to begin.
Read the full report here: Tobacco vs The People Report