The use of tobacco by youths in Nigeria has continued to elicit concerns from well meaning citizens of this country. One of the arrowheads of the campaign against the use of tobacco by youngsters is Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the programme manager of the Environmental Rights in Nigeria.

In a statement issued on the 2010 World Tobacco day, Oluwafemi said: “It is a fact that dangers are associated with smoking. The World Health Organisation estimated that a millions of people die every day from tobacco-related diseases, with the majority of these deaths happening in developing countries.

“Tobacco is the only consumer product that is guaranteed to kill half of its cunsuomers if used according to manufacturer’s intention. It contains more than 4,000 dangerous chemicals harmful to the body. It is also a fact that stringent measures aimed at reducing smoking in Europe and America have driven the tobacco industry to developing countries like Nigeria, where the industry continues to flout regulations, marketing to young and impressionable people and hooking them on smoking.”

Oluwafemi pointed it out that a survey results showed that two persons die each day in Lagos hospitals as a result of tobacco-related ailments.

Also championing the cause of anti-tobacco campaign is Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora who presented a bill to the upper House of the National Assembly. The bill, which is yet to be passed into law, seeks to ban smoking in public and end all forms of promotion of the product in the country.

Mamora, who was exasperated that some people had been trying to scuttle the bill from being passed into law, said in an interview that “no amount of propaganda; no amount of purported job creation by the British American Tobacco can justify the number of lives being destroyed through the use of tobacco. This is because certain incontrovertible evidence has been established linking tobacco use to various diseases.”

Apart from the concern raised by Oluwafemi and Mamora, the World Health Organisation listed Nigeria among countries where more girls smoke tobacco than boys who do same.

According to WHO, “More girls use tobacco than boys in some of the countries including Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria and Uruguay.”

We are equally worried about the rate at which our youths consume tobacco with  reckless abandon. Despite the health risks associated with smoking tobacco, our youths still indulge in the habit  formed out of ignorance or sheer recklessness.

But we believe the most effective method for curbing the menace is for government to enact laws that will make it hard for tobacco companies to operate fully. This perhaps will make many of them close shop and it will consequently make tobacco a scarce commodity.

Parents should also train their children well. Religious institutions also have a role to play in counselling youths on how to kick the bad habit. If we can successfully reduce the rate of tobacco use we will also significantly reduce the rate of mortality in the country arising from the use of tobacco