In a fervent push to safeguard the health of Nigeria’s youth, Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim, the Honourable Minister of Youth Development, has called for a robust alliance with private organizations to combat the pervasive issue of tobacco use among young people.
Minister Ibrahim issued this clarion call during a high-profile meeting held in her office, where she hosted a delegation led by Bintou Camara Bityeki, the Regional Programme Director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK).
Citing alarming statistics that demonstrate the grim toll of tobacco use, Dr. Ibrahim emphasized that tobacco claims the lives of approximately 8 million individuals annually, with many of them being passive smokers rather than active ones. This dire situation necessitates immediate and effective action to deter tobacco consumption among the youth.
The Minister unveiled her ministry’s commitment to prioritizing adolescent health as part of its core responsibilities, recognizing that a substantial portion of young people are either currently in the youth demographic or will soon become part of it.
Dr. Ibrahim further pledged to collaborate with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to eradicate public smoking within their camps nationwide.
Addressing the delegation earlier, Bintou Camara Bityeki underscored the perilous connection between tobacco use and a gateway to other substances that result in mental health problems and premature deaths among young people. She revealed the organization’s collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) to enact robust tobacco control legislation.
However, Bityeki emphasized that the true litmus test lay in enforcing and implementing these laws, particularly among the youth who are the primary targets of tobacco companies.
Michael Olaniyan, a member of the CTFK delegation, emphasized the need to clamp down on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, particularly within the entertainment industry, where tobacco imagery can be influential in encouraging youth to adopt the deadly habit.
Furthermore, Maryam Ahmed, another member of the delegation, voiced concern over the brazen tobacco use within NYSC camps, calling on the Minister to take decisive action against these violations of existing laws.