Ban tobacco companies or hold them accountable – consumers to the government
Many vendors of cigarettes and snuff have expressed the opinion that tobacco product producers ought to be held accountable for the rising health risks related to the use of their products.
While absolving retailers of any responsibility, they refrained from demanding a ban on the sale or manufacture of tobacco products in the nation.
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) conducted inspection and education exercises on the necessity for tobacco manufacturers to display graphics of various health risks on their packets at Etim Edem Park in Calabar where they spoke.
“The enforcers should focus on the tobacco manufacturers to label their products with all the graphics cautioning consumers, not us,” said one of the retailers, Mazi Chinedu Okaka. “I agree that such labels can help, but in the end, it is the consumers that will decide.”
He said further: “Even when there are taxes on tobacco products and the resultant high costs of cigarettes, people are still buying. Therefore, we are not to blame.
Another retailer in the Bogobiri community, which is largely a Hausa-Fulani settlement in Calabar, Usman Abdullahi said: “Now that they have enlightened us, they should also take this exercise to the dealers and manufacturers. Our own is to sell. The enforcers should talk to the consumers. Or they can even ban tobacco products.”
Government, he suggested, should slam high taxes on the products to discourage consumers.
While in Calabar, the FCCPC vowed to clamp down on tobacco manufacturers who are yet to comply with the directive to advertise graphic signs on their products to caution consumers about the health dangers associated with their products.
The regulatory body also vowed to seize such products from Nigerian markets.
The inspection and enlightenment exercises took the team to local markets at Bogobiri, Etim Edem Parks and Spar Shops among others places.
Chibuike Nwokorie, Programme Officer of Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, said: “We have told the retailers of tobacco products such as cigarettes, snuffs and such stuff that subsequent visits to them won't be friendly.
“Today, we took time to inspect shops to see whether the products comply with the National Tobacco Control Act enacted in 2015 and to enlighten retailers and consumers about the need to have graphic warnings on the products.
“We encouraged retailers of tobacco products to only sell the ones with labels that discourage consumers from buying tobacco products at their own risks.”