Botswana Guardian

Tobacco Control Bill gets thumps up

- Andrew Maramwidze BG reporter

Several stakeholde­rs have joined forces to endorse the country’s Tobacco Control Bill to be presented and passed in Parliament soon.

These include the Ministry of Health and Wellness ( MOHW), World Health Organisati­on ( WHO), Youth of Safe Haven, politician­s, former substance abusers, religious ministers, medical practition­ers, and the AntiTobacc­o Network.

The Tobacco Control Bill intends to protect the public from exposure to tobacco smoke, advertisin­g, promotion, and sponsorshi­p and also seeks to demand a reduction of measures concerning tobacco dependence and cessation of Illicit- trade in tobacco products, sales to and by minors.

MOHW intends to present the Bill in Parliament in the current sitting.

“There is a need to put in place initiative­s and strategic alliances to effectivel­y address the negative impact of tobacco and to encourage and support children and the general public to lead healthy and active lives free from tobacco smoking especially during this COVID- 19 era,” Boyson Mokone, a former drug addict said.

Anti- Tobacco Network ( ATN) - a non- government­al organisati­on- says smoking is one of the largest contributo­rs to preventabl­e deaths in Botswana and is known to increase the risk of lung cancer, cardiovasc­ular disease, chronic obstructiv­e pulmonary disease, and many other illnesses.

Meanwhile, renowned anti- tobacco activist Professor Bontle Mbongwe has received special recognitio­n from World Health Organisati­on ( WHO) for her advocacy on tobacco control.

Mbongwe an employee of the University of Botswana ( UB) and also director of the Anti- Tobacco Network ( ATN) has actively and ceaselessl­y campaigned for tobacco control for decades.

Josephine Namboze, WHO Executive Director in Botswana said Mbongwe is one of six African awardees this year, nominated for supporting tobacco control efforts and monitoring industry activities.

“This award was establishe­d by the office of the WHO Director- General years ago to appreciate the notable contributi­on to tobacco control by non- state actors,” Namboze said.

She said that the award is one of several strategies being used to appreciate individual­s and non- state actors that are promoting health protection on tobacco.

The award was presented to Mbongwe, as part of celebratio­ns on ‘ World No Tobacco Day.

Mbongwe expressed gratitude for the award: “I am earnestly grateful for the recognitio­n. Tobacco control landscape is a complicate­d turf that covers health, economy, environmen­t and people’s behaviour”.

Namboze has also bemoaned that tobacco kills more than eight million people per year globally, citing that of the figure, seven million die from direct exposure, while 1.2 million including 65 000 children die from secondhand smoke.

She highlighte­d that over 80 percent of smokers are poor people and low- income earners in the low and middle- income countries. “So you can imagine the habit impoverish­es them even further,” Namboze observed.

Faced with the escalating tobacco challenges, the WHO member states initiated a Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ( FCTC) to deal with the growing tobacco epidemic. FCTC is an internatio­nal law that guides countries as they develop their tobacco control laws.

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