Researchers from the Nigerian Tobacco Control Research Group (NTCRG) have discovered that although some institutions of higher learning have “high institutional policies on ensuring that their campuses are tobacco-free” findings indicate that tobacco control violations still exist in these institutions.
NTCRG recently made this known at a dissemination meeting held at University of Lagos for its Support and Monitor Implementation of Tobacco Control Act and Expose Tobacco Advertisement, Promotion and Sponsorship (SMITETAPS) survey in selected tertiary institutions.
The institutions surveyed are the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) and the Lagos State University (LASU). The survey was done in 2019.
Speaking to Ecoscope, Obiora Uchendu, Research Coordinator, NTCRG, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, said that “The institutions that were surveyed actually have high institutional policies on ensuring that their campuses are tobacco-free which the students can actually attest to.
He said findings on the use of tobacco products of which cigarettes are top on the list, followed by shisha, was being done by students in hiding.
“It therefore shows that the institutions have started on the right path, but they need to do more,” he said.
“Our studies employed in-depth interviews where we interviewed key stakeholders at the management level of the institutions and the students themselves.”
The research coordinator added that findings indicated that the perception exists that the decision on whether to use tobacco products or not is left to the individual. “This is a wrong narrative we should begin to change, because non-smokers are harmed when smoking takes place around them,” he noted
“It was also seen that part of the places students smoke tobacco products was within their residences. Most of the students were also unaware that there is prohibition on the use of tobacco products at events,” he added.
Uchendu said the findings indicate the need for policies “that will enable students not to initiate (using tobacco products), and make those who are using tobacco to quit.”
He added that students must be informed that use of tobacco products on campus is a crime.
“There is a need for institutions to make students widely aware that any form of tobacco use in the institution is against the laws of the country. The Nigerian Tobacco Control Act stipulates that tobacco use should not happen anywhere in any primary, secondary or tertiary institution.”
Uchendu said institutions that take such measures to curb tobacco usage would rid themselves of costs involved in managing health challenges associated with smoking at the institutions’ clinics.
Dr Akindele Adebiyi, National Coordinator of NTCRG, said the dissemination meeting was held because “we want whatever research we do to be backed by actionable activities.
“We want to commend the institutions for the awareness that is ongoing and the efforts that they are putting in place. But we want them to focus on the areas where not much has been done, so that we can upscale the implementation of tobacco control, and ultimately protect the students and the university community from the harms of tobacco.”
Areas to be addressed, he said, include brand-stretching that is subtle tobacco product advertisement and sponsorships. Not extending the ban on tobacco smoking in residential areas should also be addressed.
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