Botswana’s New Tobacco Control Law Will Save Lives and Prioritize Public HealthACTA
Amongst other very important points, the law establishes a Tobacco Control Committee, institutes a license to sell tobacco or any tobacco product, prohibits smoking in public places, prohibits tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship, mandates Pictorial Health Warnings on tobacco product packaging and labelling covering not less than 70 percent of each principal display area, and prohibits the sale of tobacco products to and by people younger than 21. It protects tobacco control policies from commercial and other interests of the tobacco industry by limiting government interactions with the tobacco industry to only when necessary for effective regulation of the tobacco industry or tobacco products, mandating full transparency at all interactions with the industry. The law prohibits government partnerships with, endorsements of, or support from the tobacco industry, as well as government incentives or privileges related to any phase of the production or marketing of tobacco products or growing of tobacco.
Every year, more than 1500 people are killed by tobacco-caused diseases in Botswana according to the Tobacco Atlas. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey, GATS Botswana 2017, reveals that up to 17.6 percent or 240,000 adults of the population of about 2.3 million, use tobacco. This rate is one of the highest in Africa. There is no doubt that the new tobacco control legislation, if well implemented, will greatly contribute to bring down this high number of deaths attributable to tobacco use.
It has been almost 17 years since Botswana demonstrated engagement to protect its people from tobacco by ratifying the FCTC. The tobacco industry no doubt fought to delay adoption of this law. Its rapid implementation will ensure that thousands of lives are saved from the devasting effects of tobacco use.