Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, on Monday, disclosed that at least 16,000 Nigerians die annually from smoking-related diseases.
Ehanire said this in Abuja while quoting the 2018 Tobacco Atlas report during the commemoration of the World No Tobacco Day.
The minister also stated that a research finding published in 2021 by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa showed that 29,472 deaths in Nigeria were attributable to smoking.
He said the theme for this year’s World No Tobacco Day, ‘Commit to Quit’, came at the right time when the global community is battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is especially so, as evidence has shown that tobacco users and those with underlying non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are at higher risk of severe Covid-19 outcomes. Assisting people to quit tobacco use will therefore improve COVID-19 treatment outcomes,” he said.
According to him, Nigeria records over 16, 100 deaths from tobacco-related diseases every year, stressing that “The death toll from tobacco is high in Nigeria.”
He said tobacco use or exposure to second-hand smoke is the leading preventable risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, stroke, cancers, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, said Nigeria was selected as one of the 22 countries for support by WHO (HQ/AFRO) to scale-up programmes to help people quit tobacco, especially at the primary health care and community levels.
She called on Ehanire to identify a space within the ministry to set-up a call center office from which the counsellors will respond to callers’ needs.