From Okwe Obi, Abuja

Tobacco companies have been mandated to embolden health warning graphics on their products, to discourage smoking.

The instruction was given yesterday by the Founder of Cogent Device International, Subuloye Oyetayo Precious, who also advised Nigerians to take their health seriously.

Recall that the government had instructed tobacco firms to combine picture and text on health warnings which should be displayed on 50 % of all principal display areas of the product packaging.

Also, the government said that in 2024, the size of the combined picture and text warnings will increase to 60 %. And the law prohibits misleading packaging and labeling.

To this end, Precious, who is a member of Advertising Regulation Council of Nigeria (ARCON), maintained that producers of cigarettes must adhere to the laws going by the high rate of smokers especially in public places.

He said: “The main focus of graphic health warning is to insist on the tobacco producers, companies, to put this warning on their tobacco products.

“Initially, these companies were using only text, that is text awareness on the dangers of tobacco on our health.

“But now, according to the Act that the government has promulgated recently every tobacco product must have graphics because not everybody can read. But at least, everybody can see.

“So, anywhere you go to buy cigarettes and there is no graphics it is then illegal. Any company that produces tobacco product and it does not have graphics health warning, it is considered an illegal product. Smokers need to see the health effects on the packs of the product.

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“The image we have right now is someone that is having cancer of the mouth because of smoking. There are so many other things around graphic health warning that people should be aware of, especially for children who are less than 18 years old.

“I want to minimize the in take of cigarettes and not that the government should ban it.

“Also, you know that government has banned the advertising of tobacco products on bill boards and electronic media. Those are part of things we are talking about. We are creating awareness on the implications of smoking or exposure to tobacco products.

“I want Nigerians to pay close attention to their health condition. They should go for regular check up. My area of specialty for almost 10 years is on the area of tobacco control, effect of tobacco smoking and exposure to tobacco.

“Tobacco can cost different diseases such as cancer, lung cancer, heart attack, and even for pregnant women it can cause serious complications.

“We need to be aware about the health hazards that comes with tobacco smoking.

“I have had the privilege to work with management sciences for health, W.H.O, Federal Ministry of Health, to produce some work to create awareness about the effect of tobacco control.

“Presently, I am the media consultants for management sciences for health. I had the privilege to design the package for tobacco products. What you see on tobacco products these days is what we call graphic health awareness.

“So, I want Nigerians to be aware that tobacco smoking, and exposing ourselves to tobacco can cause harmful effects on our health.”


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