The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has stormed Lagos markets in continuation of the enforcement of the Federal Government’s policy on Graphic Health Warnings on tobacco packs.
The policy is in line with directives of Nigeria’s National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 that new health warnings come on stream 18 months after the regulations have been gazetted.
The requirement is for all tobacco packages and not restricted to only cigarettes. The size of the warnings, which will be 50% of the total size area of the packet, will be rotated at least every 24 months and will be increased to 60% in June 2024. It replaces the former mandate for manufacturers to inscribe the message: “The Federal Ministry of Health warns that smokers are liable to die young”.
The exercise was led by Head of Surveillance Team FCCPC for Lagos State, Mr. Cammilus Anyanwu, who said that the commission was not out to victimize or vilify business owners, but to help them understand how the law should guide their business activities.
Anyanwu stated that while the FCCPC is using the exercise to create awareness on the requirements of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019, which requires tobacco companies to have pictorial health warnings on tobacco or cigarette packs, it will also not hesitate to prosecute chronic defaulters.
He used the opportunity to reiterate the commission’s commitment to work with the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance and other civil society groups to ensure that the mandate is effectively carried out.
Project Officer of the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, Mr. Chibuike Nwokorie, applauded the FCCPC for the enforcement exercise which he said is in line with the requirements of the NTC Act 2015. He said that with sustained collaboration with the FCCPC, the media and CSOs, significant progress will be recorded in the quest for a healthy and tobacco-free Nigeria.
Aside from some open markets, the team visited Jendol Superstores at Lagos Abeoukuta ExpressWay, Abule Egba, and Hubmart Stores in Ogba. The Commission’s team seized products that were not in compliance with the law.
On December 8, 2021, the FCCPC carried out a similar exercise at the Utako Market, in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) to enforce the policy.