Kenya: Lobby wants tobacco control laws enforced to curb rising burden of NCDs

Kenya: Lobby wants tobacco control laws enforced to curb rising burden of NCDs

A lobby has called on the government to come out and enforce tobacco control laws as a way of preventing the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases in the country.

The Tobacco Control Alliance has also demanded that the Tobacco Control Fund be operationalized so as to enhance tobacco control in the country.

 KETCA chairman Joel Gitali further decried the continued sell of nicotine poaches commonly known as LYFT in the Kenyan market despite the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe terming the registration of the products as illegal.

“Tobacco Consumption and related products are being talked about more frequently today than ever as causes of and aggravators of ill-health, especially Noncommunicable diseases. Ironically, very little action is being taken to control the situation,” Gitali said.

Cancers, mental sicknesses, diabetes, lung diseases, hypertension among others are on serious rise with tobacco use as a leading risky factor.

Tobacco use also accelerates spread of infectious diseases such as Covid 19, TB, hepatitis and typhoid by the manner the cigarette sticks are handled and shared.

People living with NCDs (such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer) as well as older persons above 60 years are more likely to be severely ill when infected with coronavirus disease.

“Tobacco Control Division, Tobacco Control Board, NACADA and county governments  are the leading organs that aren’t able to do much because of limited financial and human resources, Tobacco Industry interference and conflict of interests,” Gitali said.

“For a country that has abandoned it’s Universal Health Care objective and concentrated on lesser important agenda, the results are clearly visible. Illegal registration of LYFT, the oral nicotine pouches supplied by BAT is an example of how the MOH is being abused. Corruption in the ministry has crippled service delivery including tobacco control.”

Cigarette smoking is a key risk factor for esophageal cancer and is the most important preventable cause of many cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

The percentage of Kenyans aged above 15 who use tobacco products has declined marginally from nine per cent in 2012 to eight per cent in 2017, according to the latest NACADA study.

Source: STAR