This appears not to be the best of times for tobacco manufacturers globally, including Nigeria; the World Health Organization (WHO) and health experts have started vigorous campaigns against tobacco and nicotine smoking, as the coronavirus outbreak persists globally.
The WHO, in its message shared via Twitter, disclosed that Tobacco lobbyists tried to manipulate the COVID-19 policy making.
According to the health organisation, they lobbied to get Tobacco shops listed as essentials.
But WHO insisted that smoking tobacco products is likely to increase the chances of contracting the coronavirus disease. The UN health agency pointed out the following as the dangers facing tobacco product smokers, especially in this period:
- Tobacco weakens the respiratory system thereby making you more vulnerable to the virus.
- Sharing tobacco products such as water pipes can transmit the virus between people.
- Bringing your hand with the tobacco to your mouth can transfer the virus into your body and lungs.
Going further, the WHO explained that smoking damages the lungs and other parts of the body, making it more vulnerable to coronavirus infection. It also advised that this is the right time to quit smoking for safer and better health.
Tobacco lobbyists have tried to manipulate #COVID19 policymaking to get tobacco shops listed as 'essential' & offer free delivery of tobacco products to people in quarantine.
Smokers likely face more severe symptoms if infected, leading to hospitalizations & premature deaths. pic.twitter.com/pBL10oR1al
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) April 22, 2020
On their own, health experts have warned that tobacco product smokers with coronavirus disease are likely to suffer more serious conditions, which could lead to hospitalization and premature death.
However, tobacco manufacturers are not taking it lightly, as they believe tobacco shops should be included among essential services.
To maintain relevance, they are offering their patrons incentives. For instance, they also offer free delivery of tobacco products to people in quarantine.
The effect of this on tobacco manufacturers in Nigeria, e.g., the British America Tobacco Nigeria Limited, appears uncertain as governments and various individuals are desperately looking for measures to help contain the novel disease.
However, this new WHO campaign against tobacco products smoking, coupled with the proposed National Tobacco Control Regulations bill, might have adverse effects on the tobacco business in Nigeria.