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Nigerian Court Upholds Seizure of Cigarettes without Warning Labels

A Federal High Court in Nigeria recently upheld the power of Nigeria’s Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to impound products considered to be harmful or that constitute a health hazard to the unsuspecting Nigerian public – in this case, cigarettes.

Required Warning Labels in Nigeria

In February 2013, CPC made an inspection visit to the Nigerian warehouse of the distributor of Superkings cigarettes for Imperial Tobacco, based in the United Kingdom. The CPC seized over 3,000 cartons of Superkings cigarettes because the products were not in compliance with Nigeria’s laws. Read the law here>

Nigeria’s Industrial Standard requires that the text health warnings on cigarettes occupy 30% of the lower part of each panel of the packets of cigarettes. Read more about tobacco control in Nigeria here> and here>.

The cigarette company argued that this action amounted to an illegal seizure. Justice Evoh Stephen Chukwu held that the right to property was not absolute, affirming that the Superkings cigarettes were not in conformity with the laws and regulations of Nigeria. On those grounds, the case was dismissed.

According to several studies on tobacco warning labels, “adult and youth smokers report that large, comprehensive warning labels reduce smoking consumption, increase motivation to quit and increase the likelihood that they will remain abstinent following a quit attempt.” Read more here>

4.7 million Nigerian adults (ages 15 or older) use tobacco products. Read more about Nigeria’s statistics here> In part due to the decision of the Nigerian Federal High Court, those smokers will now be exposed to health warnings each time they smoke a cigarette.

Congratulations to the Nigerian Federal High Court on enforcing this important issue. ASH encourages Nigeria to take the next step and implement graphic health warnings and/or plain packaging.

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