JUST IN: House of Reps orders NAFDAC to suspend ban on spirit, alcohol in sachets, pet bottles

House of Representatives has ordered the National Agency on Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to suspended the ban on spirits, alcoholic drinks in sachets and pet bottles.

The House Committee on National Agency on Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) headed by Regina Akume decided on Thursday after a public hearing on the situation.

House Commitee members, Chairperson, Regina Akume; Deputy Chairman, Idu Obiajulu; Minister of State for Health, Tunji Alausa; NAFDAC DG, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye; DG of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Segun Ajayi-Kadir, representatives of the Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employers and Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria; representatives of the spirits and alcoholic drinks producers; officials of the Nigerian Police Force; Customs and Excise; Federal Road Safety Corps; organised labour and the civil society were present at the public hearing.

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After hearing the NAFDAC DG who claimed that the ban was imposed to protect the health and welfare of children, youths and other vulnerable groups, the House Commitee aligned itself with the views of the producers, civil society and organised labour that the unemployment and hardship being occasioned by the closure of factories as a result of the ban far outweighed the health concerns of NAFDAC.

The House members also observed that the proper step is to put access control procedures in place to prevent children and youths from consuming the alcoholic contents of the sachet and pet bottles.

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With this in mind, the House Commitee moved for the suspension of the NAFDAC ban pending the outcome of its investigation and duly adjourned its proceedings sine die.

In the last two weeks, there had been protests by stakeholders in several cities, including NAFDAC headquarters office in Abuja, NAFDAC office in Lagos, factory site of some of the alcohol firms in Ota, Ogun State and other locations decrying the ban with placards that had inscriptions such as ‘Let poor Nigerians breathe’, ‘Let beverage workers breathe’, ‘Save our jobs’, amongst others, insisting that the ban has no health implications but rather would hurt the economy with over 500,000 job loss.

Recall, On February 1, 2024, the agency commenced the implementation of the ban by shutting some factories where these sachet drinks were manufactured.

The move follows an end to the five-year ultimatum issued by NAFDAC for the sachets and small-volume PET and glass bottles below 200ml to phase out of circulation.

NAFDAC’s Director-General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, says the ban is aimed at controlling unrestricted underage access to alcoholic drinks which she said posed health risks to the children.

NAFDAC noted that the ban, which targets the most accessible and affordable forms of alcoholic beverages, is expected to have far-reaching effects on the consumption patterns of alcohol in the country.

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She said “It is a response to the growing concerns about the health risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption, particularly among the youth who are the primary consumers of these sachet and small bottle alcoholic beverages.

“Children who drink alcohol are more likely to use drugs, get bad grades, suffer injury or death, engage in risky sexual activity, make bad decisions, and have health problems.”

The agency noted that Nigeria was one of the 193 member states of the World Health Organisation that reached a historical consensus on a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol by adopting resolution WHA63.13 at the sixty-third session of the World Health Assembly, held in Geneva in 2010.

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