Deltans express hot anger over house of assembly’s silence on anti-smoking bill

The people of Delta on Monday called on the State House of Assembly to pass without delay the smoking regulations bill before it to save the citizens from death.

The respondents who spoke in an interview with our correspondent in Asaba, said that the passage of the bill into law would no doubt save the citizens from sudden deaths resulting from secondhand smoke.

The Delta State Media for Tax Justice have championed this crusade to alert the people on the near abandoned bill which was presented to the House on Nov.17, 2016.

The said bill was sponsored by Evance Ivwurie, law maker representing the people of Ethiope East constituency in the State with the aim to prohibit smoking in public places and to save the people from the impact of secondhand smoke.

Dr Emmanuel Ijese, Senior Lecturer, Delta State University, Abraka, said that the passage of the bill would usher in sustainable development, as the environment would become safer for everybody to live a heathy and productive life.

He called on the general public to push and ensure that the bill is passed for the general good of all.

According to him, smoking comes down with a lot of Heath challenges.

“As an environmentalist, I know that smoking is dangerous to human health and the none smokers who breath the secondhand smoke faces more danger than the smokers themselves.

“Let the law be passed and enforced; so, if anyone wants to smoke, he can go to safer place where it would not harm another person.

“The major challenge we have particularly as an environmentalist is that there are no surveillance studies linking the cause to the prevalence of the disease, most of the respiratory diseases arise from smoking.

“If the bill is passed, it will reduce the prevalence of those diseases particularly such that affects the non-smokers in our society”.

Also, Mr Raymond Onyekpe, a Teacher and an officer of the Nigerian Union of Teachers(NUT) in Aniocha South LGA, was blunt as he called for total prohibition of smoking and closure of tobacco companies in Nigeria.

He called for the speedy passage of the law to utterly stop smoking and the law enforced to prosecute the producers of the substance which has the capability to destroy the youths and the nation.

“Frankly speaking, smoking generally is not good because even the company, warned that smokers are liable to die young.

“With that warning alone, we the teachers we also warned our students on the dangers of alcoholism and smoking that there are no good or gains from drinking alcohol and smoking tobacco.

“If Nigerians know what thy are doing, and for any food you eat or about to eat and there was warning about a potential danger of dying young, why then are we still eating it?

“So, I call on the National and the state assembly to as a matter of urgency enact the law prohibiting smoking entirely, there is no need to either smoke secretly or publicly, smoking is dangerous because it damages the human system.

“It has been pointed that smoking damages the heart, and brings a lot of pains to the human; both the smokers and to those secondhand smokers,” Onyekpe said.

On his part, Mr kelvin Osaemena, a lawyer, said that the campaign to prohibit tobacco smoking did not start toady.

He said that the former Minister of Health, Dr Olikoye Ransom Kuti, had pioneered the campaign against smoking but people still smoke.

He said that laws exited for people to fight against any act that puts their lives in danger but those who breach the laws are themselves smokers; “Is it the politicians, law makers, security agents, they all smoke in public.

“This is because in law, anything that infringes on the right of another or exposes him to danger health wise or otherwise, the victim has a right to take action to seek remedy.

“It is not sufficient to say that there is no law but even when a new law comes up, would the smokers stop?

“It will be difficult for the offenders (smokers) to impose sanctions and even to go to the extent of prosecuting anybody.

“But I think personal action can arise if you smoke and make me a secondary smoker and I contract disease, I have the right to sue you.

“We must all start taking actions by stopping the smokers from messing up with smokes around us and our environment.

“I hope this time around our legislators will be prepared and have the political will to pass this law and if passed, would there be enforcement, because a law without sanction is as good as nothing,” Osaemena said.

A Journalist, Mr Julius Oweh, lamented the high rate of disease and threat to life in the country arising from tobacco smoking particularly among teenagers and youths.

He urged the legislators to treat the bill as urgent and pass it into law to help save the nation’s youths from dying young.

“Smoking is dangerous and it is more dangerous to the secondary smoker and that this bill has not been passed shows the chemistry of our legislators.

“They are more concerned about themselves but they are supposed to represent the people and we have seen that by their utterances and disposition they represent themselves.

“The fact that the bill has not been passed since it was presented in 2016 to the House, is a sad commentary on the type of people we have in the national assembly and the state assembly,” he said.

He said those who smoke as a matter of right must not infringe on other peoples right.

“So, I urge the legislators to in the name of fairness, justice and good representation to pass this bill to stop the smokers from the danger and also to warn the non-smokers on the effect of secondary smoke.

“The Federal Government should stop the producers of this poison because the amount spent curing its citizens is worth more than it gets from the companies as revenue and tax,” he said.

Oweh challenged the tobacco companies to channel their resources to producing other goods that would enhance life and development of the nation rather than produce poison.

“We push that after passing this bill, government must push that all who remain in the business of tobacco, must apart from laying heavy tax, should write poison on substance to further warn people about the harmful effect of smoking.

“I want to call on the pressure group to come all out to ensure that the House passes this bill because it’s passage will become another source of empowerment to the people to press for their right when infringed upon,” he said.

The bill when passed also prescribed the payments of certain fines or jail terms for offenders to serve as deterrent to others.

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