Anti-Tobacco Activists Oppose BAT Competition For Students
February 01, 2020
Tobacco control advocates on Friday opposed a competition for university students organised by cigarette maker British American Tobacco.
They said BAT Kenya is wooing university students into consuming its products through the ongoing “battle of minds challenge”.
“We consider this as indirect marketing and we demand that there is strict enforcement of the Tobacco Control Act (2012),” they said, in a statement signed by leaders of three organisations.
They are Christina Mugo Sitati of Kenyan Network of Cancer Organizations, Fr Joseph Mutie (Inter-Religious Council of Kenya) and David Makai (Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya).
The civil society and religious organisations spoke to the press in Nairobi. The press conference took place ahead of World Cancer Day on February 4.
In the BAT challenge, students are encouraged to organise themselves into groups and develop a business plan. Winners are offered a paid internship for six months at BAT.
BAT sells cigarettes and nicotine patches in Kenya. The Ministry of Health says tobacco use kills 30,000 Kenyans every year through diseases such as cancer.
The advocates also said the government was not enforcing the ban on shisha. Shisha was banned in December 2017 after a push by anti-tobacco advocates.
Surveillance by Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance has found that the compliance level of the ban is lowest in night clubs.
Even by people in the comfort of their homes, the ban on this carcinogen is hardly being enforced, the alliance found.
Though containing tobacco, shisha has been viewed by many as an alternative to cigarettes as it is flavoured with different scents and sweetened with syrup or molasses. Experts say it is far worse.
A session of smoking shisha which lasts for about an hour is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes.