The House of Representatives has urged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to begin public enlightenment and awareness campaigns aimed at discouraging liquor stores from selling alcohol to children less than 18 years.
This followed a unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Rep. Chinedu Martins (PDP-Imo) during plenary presided over by the Speaker of the house, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila on Wednesday.
The house also urged the Ministry of Health to liaise with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission to put mechanisms in place to implement the age restriction on alcohol consumption.
The House of Representatives also urged NOA to enlighten the public not to sell alcohol to children at restaurants, night clubs and beer parlors. Moving the motion, Martins expressed concern on the disturbing trend of alcohol consumption and abuse by children especially among secondary school students.
The lawmaker said it affected “their physical health and mental development as well as behavioural patterns, thus posing a major public and national health hazard.
“The global status report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on alcohol and health states that the increasing rise in alcohol related deaths globally is as a result of indiscriminate or wrongful use of alcohol.
“This was the cause of three million deaths in 2016 alone and is also a leading risk factor for population health and has a direct impact on the achievement of national target on Sustainable Development Goal on Health.
“Nigeria is estimated to have one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world, and is also adversely affected by the negative consequences of alcohol use and abuse especially among the younger population.”
He also said that the non-enforcement of the law, poor enlightenment and social influence led to children experimenting with illicit substances. “The indulgence (of alcohol) which often leads to the use of more addictive drugs and research has shown that timely prevention of alcohol use in teenagers reduces the likelihood of them getting involved with other illicit drugs later in life.
“The house is also concerned that alcohol consumption among teenagers has led to increased tendency towards violence in schools and related environments, high incidences of school dropouts and cases of mental and physical challenges,” he said.
The lawmakers also said that the long term effects of alcohol use among the under-aged population places a burden on the health care and criminal justice system. He urged the Ministry of Education to liaise with the Federal Ministry of Health to carry out alcohol prevention campaigns in secondary schools to sensitise students to the dangers of alcohol use and abuse.
The house also directed the committees on Health Care Services and Information, National Orientation Ethics and Values to ensure implementation.