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Health experts condemn tobacco industry’s tactics against control in Africa



Bloomberg launches $20 million global watchdog against tricks

Global health experts and ambassadors have condemned tobacco industry’s attempt to indulge more people, especially the young and vulnerable in Africa, to their products, which have been known to cause terminal diseases over the years.

They have, therefore, resolved to end the tobacco epidemic through effective legislations and vigorous education of the people on the dangers of smoking and other tobacco uses across the globe and especially Sub-Sahara Africa.

South Africa’s Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, who spoke yesterday at the inaugural press briefing at the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) in Cape Town, South Africa, said after two decades of legislations against tobacco, big tobacco manufacturers like British America Tobacco (BAT) and Phillip Morris International were now fighting back to retain their profits.

His words: “The tobacco industry, which is only after profits, has turned its attention on Africa. It targets younger people and Africa has the youngest population in the world.

“Therefore, we want to accelerate and amend our legislations to strengthen measures aimed at reducing and even eliminating tobacco use and ending the tobacco epidemic in Africa and the world.

“All the signs are there that the tobacco industry wants to fight back through promises of jobs creation and by mobilising unions against tobacco control legislations. What they are saying in essence is: ‘Allow us to poison you and we will give you jobs.’ But are you creating jobs for corpses?”He said there should be a global collaboration to strengthen legislations against tobacco use and implement the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who also spoke at the event, noted that over seven million people die yearly from tobacco-related ailments but that countries have made progress, adding that the awareness and progress was better felt in African countries where the tobacco industry targets the poor, vulnerable and low income population.

This, he said, perhaps explains why the WCTOH was holding in Africa for the first time and has the largest attendance with over 120 countries and no fewer than 250,000 participants, including journalists from around the world.

In his submission, WHO Ambassador for Non-communicable diseases, Michael R. Bloomberg, argued that although a lot of progress has been recorded in tobacco control issues, countries still have a long way to go in the fight to end the tobacco epidemic.

Bloomberg, who also told The Guardian that obesity will kill more people than smoking if not checked, especially in America and advised people against taking excess sugar, said that his organisation would provide $20 million to fund the launch of a new global watchdog – Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (STOP) that would aggressively monitor deceptive tobacco industry tactics and practices that undermine public health.

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