#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.
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