TOBACCO THREATENS HOUSEHOLD INCOME; LET THE LAW INCONVENIENCE SMOKERS MORE!
The theme for the 2017 World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) celebrated on the 31st May is “Tobacco – a threat to development.” Tobacco related diseases are not curable except for just a therapy. These [cancer therapies] services are centralised in Kampala and diagnosis is by specialists who are not only rear but expensive. Medical tourism in Uganda accounts for most of these tobacco related diseases occasioned by lack of health equipment, wanting speciality, drug stock outs or non-prioritised Budget.
Uganda has proposed measures that promote health and development to confront tobacco are debilitating effects. The Tobacco Control Act (TCA) 2015’s transitional clause ended on 18th of May 2017. Section 48 calls on Tobacco Industry to fully comply. It’s worth noting that Uganda’s Constitutional Court on 17th of May dismissed the application for an Injunction by British American Tobacco to stop enforcement and implementation of the tobacco controlling law.
Tobacco control breaks the cycle of poverty, contributes to ending hunger, promotes sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and combats climate change. Increasing taxes on tobacco products can also be used to finance universal health coverage and other development programs of the government.
Tobacco related diseases are true to those published on Cigarette packs- for that purpose: death! Tobacco fails struggling homes to translate the national economic statistic of tobacco taxes to fund therapeutic care for a family head suffering from tobacco caused diseases.
Tobacco is a selfish crop, rejects intercropping, and depends on fertilizers, an all year worth of waiting to start curing before ultimately selling to the monopolistic buyers. This threatens food security, makes nutritious foods scarce, thereby hurting infants, expectant mothers and the elderly who cannot afford without a balanced dietary meal.
Child labour, tobacco farmers find children as cheap labour. Parents use children too for free or claim nurturing them to take up the tobacco family business. Tobacco exposes all to life threatening effects as they work without protective gear. This increases school drop outs, juvenile delinquents, child headed homes, defilement and Child drug abuse among others. Section 17 of the tobacco control Act prohibits involving any person below 21 years in all tobacco related activities including growing, selling or buying.
Tobacco reduces quality of Air we breathe in
Article 39 of the 1995 Constitution provides that every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment. This was actualised by section 11 TCA where people are guaranteed tobacco smoke free environments. Tobacco Leaf Ltd processed in Kireka residential area exposing residents until they dragged them and NEMA to Court and got judgment in their favour in 2014, Jinja Rd near Internal affairs can now breath because tobacco stopped being processed from there.
Tobacco curing encroaches on natural forests that take long to replace, if we can afford at all. Tobacco gives us deforestation and desertification, creates leachates of pesticides, radiation and heavy metals leading to air, land and water pollution.
Tobacco exposure concerns all of us
Every year more than 5,000 Ugandans are killed by tobacco-caused diseases. Even though fewer men and women die on average in Uganda than in other low-income countries, still 71 men and 26 women are killed by tobacco every week according to The Tobacco Atlas, American Cancer Society (2015) based on Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 Results by Risk Factor 1990-2010.
Accordingly, the Global Adults Tobacco Survey (2013) 7.9% of adults (age 15+) in Uganda use tobacco products and yet according to Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2011; National of Uganda rates are higher among men than among women: 11.6 % of men and 4.6 % of women use tobacco products. Among youth (ages 13-15), 17.3 % use tobacco products (boys 19.3 % and girls 15.8 %), 4.8 % smoke cigarettes (boys 5 % and girls 4.7 %), and 15.6 % use smokeless tobacco (boys 17.8 % and girls 14.1 %).
According to the Global Youth Tobacco Survey, 2013; 20.4 % of adults who work indoors (0.5 million) are exposed to second-hand smoke in their workplace; 16 % are exposed in restaurants, and 7.8 % are exposed in public transportation. Among youth (ages 13-15), 26.3 % are exposed to second-hand smoke in public places and almost 21.6 % are exposed at home.
Is enforcement and sensitisation on
Three Shisha operations have been conducted in Kampala Metropolitan. This has happened jointly by Uganda National Health Consumer’s Organisation, Uganda Police Force under the officialdom of the Ministry of Health [10th of December 2016 at Casablanca Bar in Mukono district, 21st of January 2017 Kira Rd Divisional Police and the 10th of April 2017 by Jinja Rd and CPS Kampala.
Citizens resent public stopping public from enjoying clean air ambience, recommending smoking cessation services; ensuring public place owners don’t create smoking zones, drivers driving children to stop exposing children; KCCA, local authorities and all public buildings must adopt the graphic pictures to demonise smoking. All penalties and fines in the Tobacco Control Act are not express penalties but rather are served upon conviction. Government and other law enforcers conspiring not to enforce the law are punishable by the law too.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY
Robinah Kaitiritimba – Executive Director, UNHCO