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This article highlights the WHO global report on tobacco use released in December 2019. It provides up to date statistics on the situation in Kenya.

Fewer Kenyans Are Smoking, Numbers Expected To Drop — WHO

Jan 01, 2020

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The number of Kenyan smokers and other tobacco users has declined by almost 16 per cent to about six million at the end of 2018.

A report by the World Health Organization says that in 19 years the number of smokers aged 15 and above has dropped to 5.9 million.

The Ministry of Health estimates that tobacco kills 30,000 Kenyans annually.

Numbers declined to 14 per cent in 2005, 12.5 per cent in 2010, 11.2 per cent in 2015 and is expected to drop to 10.1 per cent in 2020.

The WHO global report on tobacco use from 2000 to 2025 was released at the end of December.

The number of male tobacco users declined from 27.9 per cent in 2000 to 18.1 per cent in 2018. It's estimated to drop to 16.3 per cent by 2025.

The number of women smokers dropped from 4.1 per cent in 2000 to 2.2 per cent in 2018, the report reads. The number is expected to drop to 1.9 per cent by 2025.

“For this projection to become reality, tobacco control efforts need to be reinforced and in some countries accelerated, to prevent additional people falling victim to tobacco-related illnesses and death,” the report states.

Despite significant progress, the tobacco epidemic is far from over.

“Progress towards reducing tobacco use everywhere in the world is uneven and some groups are getting left behind. We are falling short of achieving a global 30 per cent relative reduction in current tobacco use by 2025,” the report states.

The Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations says tobacco is the major cause of cancers of lungs, the mouth and throat, liver, pancreas, oesophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, larynx (voice box), trachea, bronchus, urinary bladder, cervix, kidney and renal pelvis, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.

Kenya has been praised for policies to combat tobacco use.

Just last month, the Supreme Court allowed the Tobacco Control Regulations 2014 to go into effect at once.

This means manufacturers of tobacco products will start contributing two per cent of the value of their products each financial year to assist the state in fighting and preventing tobacco use.

The regulations cover the manufacture, import, sale and advertising of tobacco products.

The report said about 43 million children aged 13 to 15 worldwide used tobacco in 2018 —  14 million girls and 29 million boys.

WHO states that every year, more than eight million people die from tobacco use, approximately half of its users.

More than seven million deaths are from direct tobacco use while about 1.2 million are due to non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Most tobacco-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, areas that are targets of intensive tobacco industry marketing.

“Declines in tobacco use amongst males mark a turning point in the fight against tobacco,” WHO director general TedrosGhebreyesus said.

“For many years we had witnessed a steady rise in the number of males using deadly tobacco products. But now, for the first time, we are seeing a decline driven by governments being tougher on the tobacco industry," he said.

(Edited by V. Graham)

Source: The Star