UNHCO and partners have launched an advocacy campaign in support of the tobacco control bill. The objectives of this campaign are: to galvanize support for the passage of the tobacco control bill; and to broaden the the voice of Civil Society Organisations in the passing of the tobacco control bill.
In 2005 the world ratified the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), the first public health treaty in history. It was negotiated by 193 World Health Organization member states and has so far been signed and ratified by 176 countries, representing nearly 90% of the world’s population. We are proud to mention that Uganda is one of the 46 African countries which signed and ratified this important public healthy treaty. However, it’s also important to note that our country is not among the eleven African countries that have tobacco control laws in place. By ratifying this treaty, our leaders made a promise to our children and people that they will protect them from death, disease and disabilities resulting from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Now is the time to deliver on those promises and our leaders cannot backtrack on their commitment to save millions of Ugandans dying of tobacco attributable disease. In order to protect the health and lives of her people, Uganda must act urgently and collectively to enact a comprehensive and WHO FCTC compliant tobacco control legislation.
We know that about 22% of Ugandan males and 4% of females between 15 and 49 years of age, currently, use tobacco products. We also know that tobacco use is highly addictive and kills one-third to one-half of all lifetime users and an estimated 6 million people die each year from lung cancer, heart disease and other tobacco related illness (1 in 10 adult deaths). By 2030, 80% of those deaths will be in developing countries, where Uganda lies, unless something is done. Scientific research tells us that on average, smokers lose 15 years of life and half of all smokers will die of tobacco-related diseases. It’s sad to note that about 600,000 of the deaths are attributed to second hand-smoke. Unless we take a preventive action now, Uganda will be one of those countries to bear the brunt of this death toll.
To date, our country has been a role model in the fight against HIV/AIDS and we have the opportunity to show the world that we still attach great value to human life by simply adopting the world’s proven best practices to prevent the tobacco epidemic, perhaps the biggest threat to our health, economy and development. For instance, we know that 100% smoke-free environments, tax increases on cigarettes, pictorial warning labels, total bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship have prevented the youth from starting to smoke and forced the poor to quit smoking.
Faced with a declining market and strong tobacco control measures in developed economies, multinational companies are targeting low and middle-income countries as their future market for their death, disease and disability causing trade. We are aware that the Tobacco Industry in Uganda is marshalling huge funds, their usual tricks and tactics to frustrate the tobacco control legislation process. I would like to encourage us to be the watch dogs of their works having in mind the health burden of tobacco and how it is denying the citizens their right to health. They may have all the money to frustrate us but we also have scientific facts to prove the enormous health, economic and environmental burden caused by their lethal products.
It’s important to note that tobacco affects every sphere of a country and policies to prevent tobacco related deaths and diseases are only effective when all arms of a Government work together. We all have to be alert and committed because we are fighting for a noble cause.
The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids has provided support to civil society and other partners involved in this struggle. The Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation have also provided continuous support towards this initiative.
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN!!