Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF) Executive Director, Lutgard Kagaruki said in a statement last Friday that the opening of Mansoor Industries Limited which is a Philip Morris International affiliate, is bad news for the country’s health sector as smoking youths will likely fall victim to killer diseases such as cancer.
“The company, which has already started rolling out its products titled Chesterfield Remix and Chesterfield Original, has distributed kiosks around town, using promotional girls, some as young as 15, openly violating child labour national and international laws,” Kagaruki said in her statement.
She further warned that the company which is luring youths to smoking by offering free testing cigarettes to beginners, presents a danger of enormous magnitude.
“Currently, there are eight tobacco leaf processing and manufacturing companies selling more than ten different brands of cigarettes in Tanzania. The youth are the main target of the tobacco industry,” the TTCF chief executive argued.
Kagaruki added, “More than 17,000 children smoke (10-14 years old) and 2,473,000 adults (15+ years old) continue to use tobacco each day. Research at Ocean Road Cancer Institute indicated that, 32 percent of all cancers there were tobacco-related, costing government more than $40m annually,” she revealed.
Another study done by Muhimbili National Hospital indicated that, over 240,000 people in Tanzania suffered from smoking-induced cardiovascular diseases with a total health expenditure estimated to be U$ 136.1m annually.
“These figures represent a tip of the iceberg at national level and, if effective measures are not taken, these rates will continue to rise, hand in hand with rising non-communicable diseases,” the fiery anti-tobacco campaigner noted.
She urged the government to enact an Framework Convention for Tobacco Control compliant new law, to prevent current and future generations from the devastating health, social, economic and environ mental consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to cigarettes smoke.
Tanzania ratified the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in April 2007, an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the right of all people to the highest standard of health.
To-date, 184 countries have ratified this Convention, covering more than 90% of the global population. Tanzania is obliged to have domesticated the Treaty by 2012, five years after ratification.