Botswana: Anti-Tobacco War Firms Up
July 13, 2017
By Lesedi Thatayamodimo
Gaborone — Several researchers have proven that tobacco use and second hand smoke kill more people annually than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
This was said by Minister of Health and Wellness, Ms Dorcas Makgato at a national tobacco conference in Gaborone on Tuesday.
Ms Makgato said war on tobacco use should be a battle for everyone because it affected everyone including second hand smokers and also contributed to poverty.
She noted that although tobacco deaths rarely made headlines, tobacco continued to silently rob men, women, children and other vulnerable innocent people of their right to health and living healthy lives due to its addictive nature.
She stated that overburdened health systems were already caring for countless clients who had been disabled by cancer, stroke, emphysema and the myriad of other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) caused by tobacco.
Globally, she said, five per cent of all deaths from NCDs and 14 per cent of all deaths from NCDs among adults aged 30 and over were attributed to tobacco.
She added that within NCDs, tobacco use was responsible for 10 per cent of all deaths from cardio-vascular diseases, while 22 per cent of all cancer deaths and 36 per cent of all deaths from diseases of the respiratory system.
The minister also said smoking related healthcare expenditure accounted for six to 15 per cent of all health care spending in high income countries while in low and middle income countries it ranged between 0.3 and 2.0 per cent.
That, she said was attributed to differences in access to healthcare services as well as late onset of intensive cigarette use in developing countries.
"Tobacco use is inextricably related to poverty in many countries in the world and Botswana is no exception," she said.
Ms Makgato further said the recent research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank showed that tobacco use was significantly higher among communities living within poverty stricken regions, particularly those with less education, lower levels of wealth and are alcohol users.
Again, she said there was overwhelming evidence that the world proliferation of health consequences of tobacco use might be penetrating into populations which possessed low capacity to protect themselves against diseases related to its use.
"These relations call for policies to combat both poverty and tobacco use simultaneously," she added. 72894774
Ms Makgato pointed out that tobacco products had been accepted as "normal" consumer products and had not been linked to devastating socio-economic implications, adding it seemed normal for a girl child to smoke nowadays.
The tobacco industry, she added, contributed to suffering, disease, death and economic losses.
Anti-Tobacco Network executive director, Dr Bontle Mbongwe said glorifying tobacco had contributed to the use of the deadly substance.
Dr Mbongwe said the conference would look into issues contributing to the use of tobacco such as sale of tobacco, which had become accessible everywhere and compliance of smoking in public or private places.
She also said it was surprising that there were cigarette sweets being sold, a thing she said was tempting to children because they would want to experiment.
In an interview, Dr Mbongwe said the framework convention on tobacco control would also look on banning direct and indirect forms of advertising.
She also said they would prohibit tobacco related sponsorships and not partner with those who endangered people's lives.
Dr Mbongwe said they were lobbing government to ban smoking in public or private places.