Botswana’s rising tobacco users’ figure ‘frightening,’ group says

Botswana’s rising tobacco users’ figure ‘frightening,’ group says

The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) says the rising number of tobacco users in Bostwana is frightening.

In a statement on Tuesday, the group said the south African country urgently needs a strong tobacco control law to protect its citizens from the devastating effects of tobacco.

According to statistics from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Botswana report launched on December 17 by the country’s Minister of Health and Well-being, Edwin Dikoloti, 240,000 adults aged 15 and above (17.6 per cent) use tobacco. This is the highest tobacco use rate in the WHO Afro Region.

“This is a frightening situation given the fact that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death, killing at least eight million people globally each year and creating an enormous economic and environmental burden to the society,” ATCA said in a statement issued by its executive secretary, Leonce Sessou.

Botswana ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) on January 31, 2005. As a party to the convention, it is required to adopt and implement measures to protect its citizens from the harms of tobacco.

“Unfortunately, statistics from the GATS report reveal a rather precarious situation,” ATCA said.

“For example, the report reveals that cigarettes were purchased in single sticks by 82.2% of adults. The tobacco industry works hard to maintain the sale of cigarettes in single sticks as it renders the product available and affordable for all, thereby facilitating addiction.

The GATS Botswana report also discloses that 12.2% of adults who worked indoors were exposed to tobacco smoke. 13.8% of adults were exposed to tobacco smoke in their homes and 67.4% were exposed to tobacco smoke while visiting bars and night clubs.

This is another worrying situation as the World Health Organization has affirmed that exposure to tobacco smoke is significantly harmful, the group said. Of the eight million deaths caused by tobacco annually, 1.2 million are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. Also, 42.5% of current smokers thought about quitting because of warning labels on cigarette packages.