The Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative (MHEI), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) has urged the Federal Government to ensure strict monitoring of the ban on the sale of cigarettes to persons under 18 years.
Mr Ameh Zion, the President of MHEI, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday.
Zion said that only strict monitoring would ensure total compliance with the stipulations of the ban by marketers, distributors and sellers of cigarettes.
He said major sellers and distributors of the substance should be given the mandate to collect and confirm personal information of buyers to ensure the latter met the age bracket.
According to Zion, this strategy will help with the monitoring of the sale of cigarettes to under-aged persons in the country.
“This ban by the Federal Government is a welcome development as it will boost the campaign against substance use and abuse in the country.
“We hope to ride on this development in taking our mental health campaign to the grassroots because an investigation has shown that substance abuse is one of the causes of mental disorder.
“We have also discovered various communities within the territory where drug and substance abuse is on the rise. Carrying out monitoring will not be an easy task.
“The Federal Government needs to work with major producers and distributors of this substance and give them the mandate to check and identify buyers,’’ Zion said.
NAN reports that the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had on June 1 announced the enforcement of a ban on the sale of cigarettes to persons less than 18 years in Nigeria.
The minister made the announcement in Abuja at a briefing to mark the “World No Tobacco Day”.
He called for the immediate implementation and enforcement of key sections of the 2015 National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act.
Adewole said that government would begin to implement the prohibition of the sale of tobacco products to and by anyone below 18 and ban on the sale of cigarettes in single sticks.
He said cigarettes must now be sold in packs of 20 sticks only, and smokeless tobacco should be sold in a minimum of a pack of 30 grammes.
He also banned the sale or offer for sale or distribution of tobacco or tobacco products through the mail, the internet or other online devices including the prohibition of interference of tobacco industry in public health and related issues.
According to a World Health Organisation estimate, more than 4.5 million Nigerian adults are addicted to smoking tobacco substances.