No senator has been bribed to influence the passage or otherwise of the National Tobacco Control Bill, Senate President David Mark said yesterday while declaring the public hearing on the bill open.
Senator Mark said the issue of checking marlboro cigarettes sale smoking was contentious as there are global lobbyists for ban of tobacco smoking as there are also organisations against the ban saying, “I have heard all sorts of stories about lobbyists trying to see that the public hearing does not go on, or that lobbyists insist that the public hearing must go on.
We must begin to accept that our legislators are patriotic Nigerians they don’t need to take money in any form to do anything at all. There is too much rumour in the air, rumour based on nothing absolutely.
If you have a strong case, make your case, when you fail to make your case then you go with the excuse that people have been bribed that that has happened nobody is going to bribe anybody on any bill that will come before the Senate or the House of Representatives any bill that comes here will pass through the normal process.”
The Senate President expressed reservation on the bill saying “I will remain neutral on this bill because the two key issues are health versus economy. How many jobs can we provide from the tobacco industry? How many people are going to lose their jobs now if the tobacco industries are not able to produce in this country? More importantly, if the tobacco Industries here close down, will it stop Nigerians from smoking? There are so many issues that have to be considered. Trying to stop Nigerians from smoking is one thing, getting the industry going so that people can be gainfully employed is another thing.”
Several speakers at the hearing including tobacco farmers, host communities of tobacco companies as well as business organisations expressed fears that placing ban on the industry will create unemployment and adversely affect the economy.
But in his presentation, representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Soyinka said the industry has impacted negatively on the health of the nation and has adversely affected the economy through spread of diseases.
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