Stewart: Reject interference, pass tobacco control bill
AS time ticks for the seventh session of Nigeria’s National Assembly, the country faces a critical moment. Once again, Nigeria is on the brink of passing the National Tobacco Control Bill: A groundbreaking measure that could save the lives of millions of Nigerian youth over the coming decades from tobacco-related disease and death. The bill, currently awaiting passage by Parliament, contains critical provisions including smoke-free public spaces, graphic health warnings and a ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. But through a misinformation campaign promoted in the media in the last few months, an international tobacco company controlling the largest share of Nigeria’s tobacco market – is working to stall passage of the bill. By trying to curry favor with lawmakers and the public through sponsored articles containing half-truths, the company is again attempting to sway public opinion in its favour and derail this lifesaving law – just as it did in 2009 with an elaborate PR campaign that effectively put the bill to bed.