Charles Okereke, composer of the National Anthem of the fallen Republic of Biafra and former governor of Abia state, called for strict implementation of public smoking ban as part of the precautionary measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country.
This is even as the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Friday, confirmed 114 new cases of Coronavirus, thus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in Nigeria to 1,095.
In the latest report, 80 cases were reported in Lagos, 21 in Gombe, 5 in FCT, 2 in Zamfara, 2 in Edo, 1 in Ogun 1 in Oyo, 1 in Kaduna and 1 in Sokoto.
However, while addressing newsmen in Umuahia, on Saturday, Okereke opined that cigarette smoke itself when puffed out can transport coronavirus (COVID-19) through the air from an infected person to others.
According to him, “Thumbs up to all nations that banned public smoking. In these nations, mainly in the developed world people are not allowed to smoke in public places like bars, restaurants, hotels (even in one’s room), commercial/public vehicles, public/social events, etc. Public smoking is unlawful in these countries; people are not also allowed to smoke at home with nonsmokers whether they are children or adults unless around consenting adults. The medical insurance rate for smokers and second-hand smokers are outrageously high because of their vulnerability to life-threatening diseases such as cancer among others. If one chooses to die from smoking by not listening to any sense of reason, he or she should smoke in isolation not around people. One will find out in this article how smoking in most cases is a death sentence”.
Continuing, “Smoking in public places was banned in Nigeria under Section 9 of the Nigeria Tobacco Control Act 2015, which stipulates that offenders, once convicted, are liable to a fine of not less than N50,000 or not less than six months’ imprisonment, or both. Nigerians are still boldly smoking in public places without any repercussion. You can be seated in a bar or eatery with your drinks and/or food and somebody will walk in and seat beside you smoking. If one complains, the business owner will support the smoker. This is apparently so because of ignorance of the ban on public smoking and health effects of second-hand smoking. The smoker may insult the complainant and ready to fight him before the shameful judgement in his favour by the business owner. Everyone becomes second-hand smokers unless you walk out of the place. Nigeria for you. Laws are made and in most cases not enforced either by omission by government or commission by corrupt law enforcement agents who collect money and look away as if nothing happened.
“Puffed out cigarette smoke is equally inhaled by nonsmokers turning them second-hand smokers. Nigeria must enforce the ban on public smoking for the center of her economic growth (if any), national health and cohesion to hold square. The same applies to other nations not enforcing their ban on public smoking. United Nations (UN) and The World Health Organization (WHO) should make it mandatory for all nations to ban and enforce public smoking”.
Okereke also added, “COVID-19 pandemic or none, smoking is dangerous to our health individually, as a society and nation. Cigarette smoke is an immunosuppressant and immunosuppressed people are at greater risk of infection and death from COVID-19. Smokers and second-hand smokers are more susceptible to lung cancer, respiratory problems and heart disease which are among the highest risk factors for COVID-19 death. The University of Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine reports smoking as apparent factor in COVID-19 high death rate in Italy where twenty-four percent of people smoke.
“The hand-to-mouth action of smokers makes them vulnerable to COVID-19 as they touch their mouth and face during smoking. Benefits of quitting smoking are almost instant, within twenty-four hours the body starts to recover and repair. Lung function and respiratory issues improve. Public smoking ban must be enforced not only to contain the spread of COVID-19 19 and casualty (death) rate but for a healthy nation. Nigeria must act fast.”