A United Kingdom-based health economist, Dr. Damilola Olajide, has warned that excessive regulation of the tobacco industry in Nigeria may affect the manufacturers’ social responsibilities to the society.
Olajide, while delivering a lecture, titled, ‘Balancing regulation with product health hazards: Case for tobacco use in Nigeria,’ at a policy dialogue recently organised by the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis in Lagos, said that over-regulation of the industry could force manufacturers to reconsider their input in areas, such as the funding of cancer research in health institutions or the sponsorship of smoking cessation programmes across the country.
“The issue is not to force manufacturers to stop production because they are also employers of labour. But we can make them more responsive to fund cancer research or other programmes that are beneficial to the society,” he said.
Olajide pointed out that, even as available data on tobacco use in Nigeria did not support an over-regulated tobacco industry, “the industry is heavily saturated with regulations and the current level of regulation seems to be in favour of doing the dictates of the World Health Organisation instead of what is required locally.”
He argued that since the effectiveness of regulation of tobacco use was slightly dependent on addressing “a complementary behaviour, which is alcohol consumption, the relevant regulatory agencies ought to recognise that there is a social and economic dimension to tobacco use, which requires targeted regulatory regimes and not just a blanket regulation.”