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CAPPA decries tobacco industry’s meddling in Nigeria’s public health policies

.Says Nigeria slips in 2023 rating

Degital Media Manager, CAPPA, Anjola Fatuase (left); Executive Director, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, and Policy and Research Officer of CAPPA, Zikora Ibeh, during the presentation of the report to the media in Lagos.

‘Whilst Nigeria’s  National Tobacco Control Act and its Regulations have largely checked the activities of tobacco corporations and entities, the industry has exploited some weaknesses in these laws and gaps in the system to interfere in tobacco control’

By Valentine Amanze

Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has raised alarm over “marked increase” in tobacco industry’s meddling in Nigeria’s public health policies, especially on tobacco control measures.

CAPPA made the revelation in its latest report, the “State of the Tobacco Industry Interference in Nigeria,” which was presented to the media in Lagos on Tuesday November 21, 2023.

In the report, which was supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies through the Centre for Good Governance, CAPPA lamented that Nigeria’s ratings dropped from 53 points in 2021 to 60 in 2023.

It pointed out that the main deterioration was manifest in the Nigerian government’s challenges and failure to adhere to transparency mechanisms, and disclosure of exchanges with the Industry as mandated by the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019.

It however appealed to the Nigerian government to implement the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 fully, while reviewing  ambiguities in the law to avoid providing revolving doors that the tobacco industry could exploit to interfere in public health and other policies of the government.

It also advised state authorities to build intergovernmental synergy at all levels by establishing clear protocols for the full disclosures of minutes and proceedings from meetings and interactions with the tobacco industry.

Also read: Tobacco farming is worsening Nigeria’s food crisis – CAPPA

Besides, the report called on the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to consistently update their websites and other information platforms to facilitate the easy dissemination of information and engender transparency.

Policy and Research Officer of CAPPA, Zikora Ibeh, at the event, said that the government must do more to reverse the trend.

Her words: ‘‘The Nigerian government must work to ensure that public officials in relevant ministries, departments and agencies sign conflict-of-interest forms periodically to remind them of commitments or obligations that may compromise their office and operations.’’

Alao, the Executive Director, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, condemned the tobacco industry for expoiting the loopholes in the regulatory guidelines to the detriment of the citizens.

He said, ‘‘Whilst Nigeria’s  National Tobacco Control Act and its Regulations have largely checked the activities of tobacco corporations and entities, the industry has exploited some weaknesses in these laws and gaps in the system to interfere in tobacco control.’’

Meanwhile, the researchers at CAPPA measured and evaluated incidents of tobacco industry interference in Nigeria against 20 questions based on the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s (WHO FCTC’s) Article 5.3 guidelines.

The guidelines urge member-states to adopt robust measures for safeguarding their tobacco control policies from the influence of the tobacco industry.

valoa2000@yahoo.com

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