ATCA urges African governments to uphold tobacco control at WHO Regional Committee Meeting
Participating in the 72nd session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa in Lome, the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) has called on governments to put more efforts to protect future generations and guarantee a healthy and tobacco-free Africa. Leonce Dieudonne Sessou, Executive Secretary of the pan African alliance made the call while addressing the committee on Thursday 25 August 2022.
Speaking on behalf of Civil Society Organisations of the African tobacco control community, Sessou appreciated governments for stepping up initiatives to achieve the reduction of 30% in the prevalence of tobacco use by 2025 among people aged 15 years and above. He pointed out that there is a considerable increase in tobacco use among African youth and recent studies show that the prevalence rate among girls has become as high as for boys. He deplored the fact that these efforts are being hampered by tobacco industry malpractices.
“Young people are a prey for tobacco multinationals despite efforts by African governments to protect populations. The industry is increasingly influencing officials, using CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of both conventional and novel tobacco products, thereby undermining the implementation of tobacco control policies” said Sessou.
He urged governments to accelerate implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in their countries adding that this “ensures that future generations as well as tobacco control policies are protected from the devasting consequences of tobacco industry interference.” He reiterated the availability of the African tobacco control civil society to continue to support governments.
Headquartered in Lome, Togo, ATCA is a tobacco control civil society network with membership in 39 countries of the WHO Afro Region. It is an Observer to the Conference of Parties (COP) to the WHO FCTC and has Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
Sessou ended his intervention on a hopeful note affirming that a tobacco-free Africa is possible.
Several tobacco control actors including the WHO have noted that amongst other issues, tobacco industry interference not only weakens government policies to protect its citizens, but also derails attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Tobacco use is a major cause of preventable illness and death and poses significant threats to the development of the continent.