L-R Tobacco Standards Desk Officer, Mrs. Elsie Ofili (In green); Dr. Mrs. Omolara Okunlola, Group Head, Food Standards; Prof. Mrs. Racheal Toyosi Idowu, TC Chairman and Mr. Louis Njoku, Tobacco Control Expert

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) recently hosted a 2-day Technical Committee (TC) meeting on draft standards for four distinct categories of other combustible tobacco products at its Ogba Laboratory complex, namely for Cigar Tobacco, Fine Cut Tobacco, Water-Pipe Tobacco and Pipe Tobacco.

In his opening remarks, the Director General, Osita Aboloma Esq. stated that in spite of healthcare warnings and caveats on cigarette packaging on the dangers of smoking, millions of people around the world and in Nigeria still enjoy smoking, hence the need to continually standardize and regulate the manufacture and use of these products.

Represented by the Director Standards Development, Mrs. Chinyere Egwuonwu, the SON Chief Executive revealed that the challenge to rid the Nigerian market of substandard tobacco products dates back to 2001, with the elaboration of various standards which served as basis for manufacturing, testing, regulation as well enforcement in order to eradicate substandard tobacco products.

According to Aboloma, the World Health Organisation (WHO) through the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) has been making concerted efforts to protect the present and future generations  from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and the exposure to tobacco smoke.

“It would be recalled that a subcommittee of experts was constituted in February 2018 to expand on the draft standard on other combustible tobacco products and Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs) to apply to all the distinct categories of other combustible tobacco products”, he said.

According to him, the WHO submits that “tobacco is one of the few openly available commercial products that are virtually unregulated in terms contents and emissions, while at the same time, it is the only legally available product that kills up to one-half of its regular users when consumed as recommended by its manufacturers”.

“In the light of this, “tobacco product regulation, which includes regulating the contents and emissions of tobacco products via testing, mandating the disclosure of the test results, regulating the packaging and labelling of tobacco products is a pillar of any comprehensive tobacco control programme”, according to WHO.

The SON, DG commended the technical experts for their commitment and efforts in guiding the drafting and development of the four distinct combustible products to be deliberated upon at the meeting.

At the end of deliberations, the Technical Committee achieved consensus on  three of the draft standards while that for Pipe Tobacco was stepped down on the request of regulators to give room for further inputs and future consideration.

In attendance were representatives of relevant government agencies like; Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development FMARD), an NGO- Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the University of Abuja.

Others participants include industry leaders such as; Scandinavian Tobacco Group, British American Tobacco Nigeria, Japan Tobacco International, International Tobacco Ltd, Ilorin, Philip Morris Ltd, Louis Vera Global Services Ltd, International Marketing Promotional Services Ltd, Black Horse Tobacco Co. Ltd, FMCG Distributions Limited, House of Steward Ltd, policy makers and partners in the tobacco sector amongst others.

Cross Section of Tobacco Products Stakeholders at the TC Meeting on Combustibles

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