Paul Osuyi, Asaba
A cross section of residents in Asaba, Delta State capital have appealed to the state House of Assembly to pass a bill seeking to regulate smoking before the end of the 7th Assembly next month.
The private member bill which was sponsored by Evance Iwhurie representing Ethiope East constituency in 2016, seeks to prohibit smoking in public places, and to save the people from the impact of second-hand smoke, among other provisions.
Respondents who spoke in separate chats with our correspondents wondered why the House was delaying the passage of what they described as critical bill bothering on the protection of the health of the people.
A senior lecturer in the Delta State University (DELSU), Dr. Emmanuel Ijese, said that smoking comes with a lot of health challenges.
“As an environmentalist, I know that smoking is dangerous to human health and none smokers who breath the second-hand smoke face more danger than the smokers themselves.
“Let the bill be passed and enforced; so, if anyone wants to smoke, he can go to a safer place where it would not harm another person.
“The major challenge we have particularly as an environmentalist is that there are no surveillance studies linking the cause to the prevalence of the disease, most of the respiratory diseases arise from smoking.
“If the bill is passed, it will reduce the prevalence of those diseases particularly those that affect non-smokers in our society,” Ijese said.
On his part, Mr. Kelvin Osemene, a lawyer, said that the campaign to prohibit tobacco smoking did not start today, noting that onetime Minister of Health, Dr. Olikoye Ransom Kuti, had pioneered the campaign against smoking but people still smoke.
“Is it the politicians, lawmakers, security agents; they all smoke in public. This is because in law, anything that infringes on the right of another or exposes them to danger health wise or otherwise, the victim has a right to take action to seek a remedy.
“It is not sufficient to say that there is no law but even when the new law comes up, would the smokers stop?
“It will be difficult for the offenders (smokers) to impose sanctions and even to go to the extent of prosecuting anybody.
“But I think personal action can arise if you smoke and make me a secondary smoker and I contract disease, I have the right to sue you.
“We must all start taking actions by stopping the smokers from messing up with smokes around us and our environment.
“I hope this time around our legislators will be prepared and have the political will to pass this law and if passed, would there be enforcement, because a law without sanction is as good as nothing,” Osemene said.
Also, a journalist, Mr. Julius Oweh, lamented the high rate of disease and threat to life in the country arising from tobacco smoking particularly among teenagers and youths.
He urged the legislators to treat the bill as urgent and pass it into law to help save the nation’s youths from dying young.
“Smoking is dangerous and it is more dangerous to the secondary smoker; that this bill has not been passed shows the chemistry of our legislators.
“They are more concerned about themselves but they are supposed to represent the people and we have seen that by their utterances and disposition; they represent themselves.
“The fact that the bill has not been passed since it was presented in 2016 to the House, is a sad commentary on the type of people we have in the National Assembly and the state Assembly.
“So, I urge the legislators in the name of fairness, justice and good representation, to pass this bill to stop the smokers from the danger and also to warn the non-smokers on the effect of secondary smoke,” he said.