The President of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Osahon Enabulele, has commended the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, for signing into law the bill that prohibits smoking in public places.
The association expressed its approval of the move in a statement released on Wednesday, applauding both the executive and legislative arms of the State government.
The association commends this bold effort by the Lagos Sate House of Assembly and the Lagos State Government at protecting public health, promoting public decency and safe guarding the health and morality of children in Lagos state, the statement read.
The bill, signed on February 17, 2014, was passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly on Monday January, 20, 2014 sought to among other provisions, ban cigarette smoking in public toilets, tertiary institutions, public transportation vehicles, shopping centres, stadia, and restaurants. The law also compelled management of public places to conspicuously display No Smoking sign at appropriate positions within their premises; and criminalise smoking before minors.
NMA, however, expressed fears regarding the implementation of the law.
Nigerian Medical Association is worried about compliance and therefore, the implementation of the law given the sub-optimal levels of public awareness and health education on the dangers associated with tobacco smoking.
We are also worried over the absence of cigarette smoking withdrawal programs, particularly as it affects the fate of citizens who have not been prepared for the drastic withdrawal from the highly addictive and cancer inducing substances contained in cigarettes.
Noting that commodities like nicotine patches and e-cigarettes that mitigate the withdrawal symptoms in smoke quitters are not readily available in Nigeria, the medical association called on the governments at all levels to emulate and even out-pace the Lagos State Government in giving biting teeth to the concerns on the dangers of cigarette smoking by promulgating implementable laws, educating the general public, and providing the much needed but scarce commodities for rehabilitating smokers and aid those who want to quit.
The statement read: While the much needed role of faith-based organisations and other social groups cannot be over emphasised, we note that achieving a smoking-free society lies in all citizens, families and groups”.