Over 3,000 can­cer­ous sub­stances in to­bacco - ex­pert

Daily Nation Newspaper - - HOME NEWS - By SAN­DRA MACHIMA

OVER 3,000 chem­i­cal sub­stances, many of which cause cancer are found in to­bacco when man­u­fac­tured into cig­a­rettes, ac­cord­ing to Pro­fes­sor of Phys­i­ol­ogy and Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Health at the Univer­sity of Zam­bia, Fa­s­tone Goma.

Prof Goma said to­bacco was the most toxic crop and its use was known to cause more than 100 dis­eases and 40 dif­fer­ent can­cers, caus­ing death to its con­sumers.

He said to­bacco causes harm at ev­ery stage of its life cy­cle, from cul­ti­va­tion to dis­posal, link­ing to an ever in­creas­ing list of dis­eases, and bur­dens health sys­tems.

Prof Goma said to this ef­fect, Zam­bia was a sig­na­tory to, and has rat­i­fied, the Frame­work Con­ven­tion on To­bacco Con­trol, an in­ter­na­tional and bind­ing le­gal treaty un­der the aus­pice of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The treaty has obliged coun­tries that have rat­i­fied the treaty were not to pro­vide any in­cen­tives to to­bacco com­pa­nies, which ex­tends to of­fer­ing them tax ex­emp­tions.

Prof Goma noted that for­eign mar­kets were in­ter­ested in the to­bacco leaf, not the fin­ished prod­uct, as an ex­port crop, adding most of the to­bacco farm­ers were still liv­ing in poverty.

He said the treaty also com­mits Zam­bia’s govern­ment to in­cen­tivise the pro­duc­tion and cre­ation of value chains for al­ter­na­tive crops to to­bacco, to as­sist to­bacco farm­ers in di­ver­si­fy­ing their cash-pay­ing crops.

He stated that most of the farm­ers ac­cord­ing to the study do not want to con­tinue grow­ing to­bacco, but in­stead want the govern­ment to pro­vide them with as­sis­tance to grow other cash crops.

Prof Goma added that most small­holder to­bacco farm­ers ei­ther make very lit­tle in profit, or end each grow­ing year in debt to the leaf-buy­ing com­pa­nies that sup­ply them on credit with in­puts at the start of the sea­son.

“The UN Food and Agri­cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion finds that, in 2015, to­bacco con­trib­utes only 0.4 per­cent, a tiny amount and hardly worth the many deaths its pro­duc­tion and use leads to, and there­fore no­tions about grow­ing the econ­omy was not true,” he said.

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