Death By Not Smoking

Death By Not Smoking

A recent Ministry Of Health survey shows that 13,000 Ugandans die of tobacco related diseases every year- but here’s is what is even more shocking, the same survey shows that half of these people are non-smokers. (do not use tobacco) Yes, about 600 Ugandans who do not use tobacco die of tobacco related diseases.

While that sinks in, you might want to remember the Clause 12 of the Tobacco Control Act specifies that “A person shall not smoke within 50 meters of any public place…” Many smokers have expressed their dissatisfaction with clause and found it, “harsh,” but is it really harsh when it aims at protecting another life? Or is it we’re used to our freedom to violate other people’s rights as long as we’re doing what we want?

Take for example, when a smoker travels by plane to another country, they are restricted from smoking on the plane. It could be for 4, 6 or even 12 hours, in which time they abide by the restriction. Why then, would it be in this case considered harsh to just smoke at a safe distance away from other people? The law is not harsh, it does not take away the right of the smoker: it only requires that the health of others be respected and preserved.

We can all exercise our rights while respecting others’ rights too.

 

What Are Our Children Buying From The Canteen?

What Are Our Children Buying From The Canteen?

During a recent scouting of the neighborhoods of Kamwokya suburb in Kampala, we went by the KCCA Primary School during the school lunch break that also seemed like a break off.  Directly opposite the school less than 10 meters from the school gate is a kiosk/shop from which pupils buy eats and drinks. On close observation, the front door of the shop is pinned with a large British American Tobacco poster. Inside, cigarettes are on clear display- and about 10 minutes later, a young boy about 10 years of age runs past us with cigarette sticks in his hand from the shop. Which clears any doubt in our minds about whether cigarettes are actually sold to children.

big tobacco tiny targets

The 2015 Uganda Tobacco Control Act prohibits the sale of tobacco to children under the age of 21 years and whereas one might argue that to identify who is 21 and above will be difficult, surely it s highly unlikely that there will be a 21 year old in Primary School. The law also places a complete ban on any kind on advertisement, that seen in poster form at the shop inclusive.

To implement this will undeniably be an uphill task and there’s so much work to do: but what are you doing about the exposure of tobacco and its dangers to yourself but most especially to your children? Think about it.

#WorldBreastfeedingMonth: Why Tobacco Is Bad News For Breastfeeding Mothers

#WorldBreastfeedingMonth: Why Tobacco Is Bad News For Breastfeeding Mothers

Smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco may reduce your milk production and inhibit the let-down reflex. It also may make your baby fussy or irritable. Babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for many problems, including ear infections, asthma, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). You should not smoke or be around those who do while you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Illegal drugs can be passed to a baby in some amount through the breast milk. Drug use can cause poor milk let-down in the mother and a lack of energy, intoxication, hyperactivity, addiction, or other health problems in the infant. Drugs can also get in the way of a mom’s ability to care for her child.

Bribes and the Tobacco Control Act, 2015

Bribes and the Tobacco Control Act, 2015

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary: Panorama; The secret bribes of big tobacco broadcast on the 30thNovember 2015.  Panorama found that British American Tobacco (BAT) illegally paid politicians and civil servants in countries in East Africa. Uganda has a very strict law on control of Tobacco smoking and exposure.

The Uganda media prints: New Vision, 2nd December 2015 in an article by Chris Kiwawulo: MP denies receiving sh102M bribe; The Daily Monitor by Nelson Wesonga: MP named in Shs 67 M BAT bribery Scandal. The MP of Bugangaizi west Hon. Kasirivu Atwooki is alleged among officials who received bribes from BAT in a bid to block tough anti-Smoking laws to which he has filed a total denial. It must be recalled that Tobacco Control Act (TCA) was assented to on the 19th of September 2015 by the president and is awaiting publication in the Uganda gazette. The Uganda tobacco Control Movement welcomes such reports and calls on more to be exposed, while awaiting the alleged to show cause as to why they should not be suspect.

Let me make reference to sections of the TCA prohibiting Civil servants, policy and law makers from hobnobbing with the tobacco industry. We must be reminded that Article 79 clause (1) of the Constitution exclusively charges parliamentarians with the responsibility of making laws thence making Tobacco Industry interference a resultant force to reckon with.

Section 20 subsection (1) of the TCA stipulates ‘ a person, body or entity that contributes to or may contribute to the formulation, implementation, administration, enforcement or monitoring of the public health policies or tobacco control shall not interact with the tobacco industry except where It is strictly necessary for the effective regulation of the tobacco industry or a product.’ With subsection (2) insists that the accepted interactions must be transparent.

Section 21 and attendant paragraphs prohibit partnerships and endorsements from the Tobacco industry to civil servants, policy and law makers directly or incidental to the formulation, monitoring or enforcement of the TCA.

Sections 22 and 23 prohibit soliciting or receiving or and accepting voluntary contributions of people and persons involved in activities or those incidental to the TCA.

Penalties for contravention of sections 21, 22, 23 on conviction provided in section 24 among others include: cancellation of partnership, endorsement, MOU; forfeiture of contribution and revocation of the incentive, benefit, privilege or tax exemption. It is vital to note that section 44 on General penalty avers that “ Any person who commits an offence under this Act for which no penalty is provided shall be liable to a fine not exceeding 24 currency points  or imprisonment for 1 term not exceeding 6 months.

The allegations and more yet to surface are machinations the Tobacco Industry uses to compromise Tobacco control and regulations by targeting like officials. It was due to this that Tobacco control activists with the mover of the law vehemently argued for these punitive sections. For more I enjoin you peruse the law. The Law is alert to the resourcefulness whistle-blowers are, they too are protected in section 41 (3) in conformity with the whistle blower protection Act, 2010.

TCA is a tobacco Industry inconvenience; it is incumbent on us to evoke our civic duty espoused in Article 19 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda as amended to make this Public health tool work. This operationalises Article 39 of the Constitution that enjoins us to the right to a clean and health Environment.  We must be steadfast in holding the Tobacco Industry accountable by leaving it no chance to abuse Tobacco Control efforts embedded in our legislation.

Let us continue to de-normalise the deceptive schemes of the Tobacco Industry disguised in gifts, dust bins looking in the shape of cigarettes, promotions only intended to reach out to new clientele especially the none suspecting under 21 year olds.

#TBT: A Research Fellow’s Plea To Speaker To Pass Tobacco Control Bill

#TBT: A Research Fellow’s Plea To Speaker To Pass Tobacco Control Bill

Although tobacco control has largely been constructed as a public health matter, research we conducted in Uganda last year shows that tobacco use is also solidly a poverty issue. Ugandans in the two lowest income groups have higher tobacco use rates than those in higher income groups even when they can afford it the least.
We analysed two combined Uganda household expenditure data sets of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 and asked a basic question. How much do poor households in Uganda spend on tobacco per week and what could this money potentially buy the household? We then looked at the prices of commodities in the Uganda Consumer Price Index of June 2010 and the potential purchases of selected alternative items with regard to food, health and education.
We found that money Ugandan households spent on tobacco every week could have bought eight litres of fresh milk or two loaves of bread. Studies done in Bangladesh show that households which spend on tobacco suffer more malnutrition than those which don’t. In the case of Uganda, we found that households’ weekly expenditure on tobacco was equivalent to the price of three and a half kilogrammes of maize flour during the same period.
The results also showed that money spent by a parent on tobacco could buy their children a set of primary school exercise books or 21 ball-point pens.

Read Full Article Here:

The Danger That Is Tobacco

The Danger That Is Tobacco

Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of death globally. It claims more lives than Aids, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The commonest cancer in the world today is lung cancer. Tobacco use has been determined to cause 71 per cent of all lung cancer cases. There would be 21 per cent less cases of heart disease globally if people didn’t smoke.

As the world commemorates the World No Tobacco Day on May 31, it is an opportune moment to reflect on Uganda’s burgeoning NCDs epidemic, and to reflect on the role of tobacco use in this largely-preventable epidemic.

Although tobacco use is often construed as a public health issue, it is also about poverty and development. According to the latest Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS), tobacco use is more common among the two lowest income groups in Uganda and those with least education.

A study in Bangladesh by Debra Efroymson and others concluded: ‘’average male cigarette smokers spend more than twice as much on cigarettes as per capita expenditure on clothing, housing, health and education combined. The typical poor smoker could easily add over 500 calories to the diet of one or two children with his or her daily tobacco expenditure.’’

In 2010, Uganda had household expenditure of Shs 357bn spent on tobacco products, which was more than the government budget for health of Shs 310bn. Many smokers want to quit but are unable to due to nicotine-dependence – thanks to one of the ingredients wired into cigarettes.

But a lot can be done to reduce tobacco use’s contribution to the current NCDs epidemic in Uganda.  Probably, the most effective tobacco control measure is increasing taxes on tobacco products such as cigarettes. WHO has selected [raising] tobacco taxes as this year’s World No Tobacco Day theme.

In South Africa, a 10 per cent increase in taxes on tobacco was followed by eight per cent reduction in cigarette consumption. Low-income earners are the most sensitive to cigarette price increase. If a stick of cigarettes cost Shs 150 and you added Shs 50 in tax, at Shs 200 it would be more costly to smoke.

Young people are even two to three times more responsive and studies show that higher taxes and prices are most effective in preventing youth from moving beyond experimentation and into regular tobacco use.

Uganda has one of the lowest taxes on cigarettes in East Africa, and is way below the recommended tax rate it committed itself to when it signed the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in June 2007.

This article was originally written as an OpEd in The Observer newspaper. See full article here:

Tobacco Control At Rotaract Kyengera

Tobacco Control At Rotaract Kyengera

The Tobacco Control Campaign through Mr. Daniel Kadobera of Ministry of Health, was hosted by the Rotaract Club of Kyengera on Monday 20th June, 2016. Mr. Kadobera who was also the guest speaker at the club’s fellowship disseminated the Tobacco Control Act to Rotaractors in an interactive session and stressed the importance of the law to especially the smokers.

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Daniel Kadobera from Ministry of Health speaking at the Rotaract fellowship

Daniel spoke about the high number of smokers in the country’s Cancer Ward which must not be ignored in the fight for a Tobacco Free Uganda. “There’s more money spent on Cancer treatment than earned from tobacco sale and usage,” he said. He also noted that the children were at a higher risk from inhaling tobacco smoke and that it should be everybody’s responsibility to protect them.

 

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Tobacco Free Father’s Day

Tobacco Free Father’s Day

Father’s day is here again. A time for the fathers to be celebrated and appreciated too. Often we wonder what the threshold for a good father is. Many will say; “A good father is a responsible father, ” but who really is a responsible father? What actions and choices portray responsibility in a man with a child?

It might be paying school fees, buying essentials for their wellbeing or even protecting their children’s health and avoiding habits that might put their children’s health at risk. Which is why fathers that have made a choice not to smoke for the love and protection of their children are indeed, responsible fathers.

A study shows that children that grow up in households where their parents smoke tobacco are highly exposed to respiratory diseases and other infections. These children are also likely to die at at a very young age considering their immunity is still too weak to fight these health dangers. Not to mention, should the partner of a pregnant woman expose them to second hand smoke, chances are high she will have an underweight child, possibly with deformities and even a premature birth.

Therefore it is a responsibility of fathers to protect their families from these health risks and fathers who have managed to do exactly that, are like it or not, good, responsible fathers who must be celebrated. Are you a father who smokes or just a young man who smokes but hopes to be a father one day? Think about this.

Happy Father’s Day!

Uganda Tobacco Control Act 2015 Comes Into Force; Bans Smoking In Public Places

Uganda Tobacco Control Act 2015 Comes Into Force; Bans Smoking In Public Places

The Uganda Tobacco Control Act 2015 has come into force today, six months after being   gazetted on 18th November 2015. The tobacco control bill was passed by Parliament on 28th July 2015, and was assented to by the President on 19th September 2015. The Act is a fulfillment of Uganda’s obligations to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control ( FCTC) which  the country signed on 5th March 2004 and ratified on 20th June 2007.

Announcing the commencement of the Act this morning, the Director General of Health Services, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng called upon the law enforcement agencies including the Police, Environment Protection Officers, Health Inspectors and Municipality Enforcement Officers among others, to swing into action by educating the public and businesses on the new law.  She highlighted the key provisions of the Act which include;

  1. Establishment of a Tobacco Control Committee chaired by Office of the Prime Minister with the Secretariat at the Ministry of Health.
  2. Prohibition of  smoking in all public places, workplaces, means of transport and other outdoor space within 50metres of a public place.
  3. Display of notices stopping smoking in the public places with words in English, Kiswahili and local languages spoken in the region.
  4. Total ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship by tobacco manufacturers, distributors and sellers , including at points of sale
  5. Total ban of some tobacco products including Shisha (water-pipe tobacco), smokeless tobacco such as Kuber which is chewed and flavored tobacco products.
  6. Ban on production, sale and use of electronic cigarettes
  7. Bans supply and involvement of minors below 21years of age in processes of production, sale and use of tobacco products
  8. Ban on importation, manufacture and sale of tobacco products which do not conform to standards of the government of Uganda to be stipulated in the regulations
  9. Prohibiting unnecessary interactions with the tobacco industry as a way of protecting public health policies from tobacco industry interference.

The Act will officially be launched on World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2016.

See below the full law.

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How The Tobacco Control Act Will Build This Nation

How The Tobacco Control Act Will Build This Nation

Many times you’ll be at your local shop waiting in a queue to buy airtime and a 9 year old kid will come running, halt right next to you and extend their hand to through the metallic bars before speaking confidently; bampeeyo sigala wa lukumi!

Now for many of us, it may not register how seriously dangerous it is that a child confidently walk to a shop to purchase a tobacco product that might potentially harm their health forever, but if you think about it long enough, you should ask yourself how many of children, most of whom are below 12 years are potential addicts. That right there is a problem.

The Uganda Tobacco Control Act joins several countries around the world to put a ban of sale of tobacco to any individual below the age of 21. Going forward, the choice to use tobacco will only be made by adults that are well informed of the consequences of their habits.

With this law in place, the numbers of Ugandans exposed to tobacco usage at an early age is reduced, we have more children concentrating on school and development of their talents and consequently, less people in their adulthood suffering cancer and respiratory diseases, a less strained health sector and more citizens healthy enough to contribute to the development and growth of Uganda.

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