Zambia Alliance for Tobacco Control (ZATC) Secretary General Teddy Mulenga has expressed disappointment in Government for having tabled the Pro-Tobacco-Industry Tobacco Bill before Parliament sidelining the Tobacco Control Bill that has been ignored for some years now.
Mr Mulenga added that the Bill tabled before parliament is all about strengthening the Tobacco Industry activities in Zambia, with measures to redesign the Tobacco Board of Zambia in its quest to promote the growth, sale and promotion of Tobacco in the Country.
He stated that it is disappointing that the Tobacco Industry seems to have been given priority over the Tobacco Control Bill that seeks to limit production, promotion and sale of tobacco in Zambia.
Mr Mulenga cited that Tobacco Control Bill was tailored as a response to World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC), to which Zambia signed in 2008.
“The idea was to domesticate the recommendations within five years of signing and we are now entering the fifteenth year and the Bill is still gathering dust somewhere in some Government office,” he said
Mr Mulenga noted that Zambia loses about 1% to 2% of its GDP towards the costs to treating tobacco related diseases and along with this, Zambia loses close to 8,000 people each year because of tobacco related illnesses, such as, Lung Cancer, Stroke, Heart disease, Hypertension, Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Airway disease.
He noted that this health burden outweighs the perceived economic benefits some claim tobacco provides and the contribution of tobacco to the Country’s GDP is paled in relation to the expenditure related to mitigating the health ailments because of tobacco use.
Mr Mulenga highlighted that in the same vein, ZATC would like to implore Government to curb the rapid spread of the use of Shisha and Electronic (vapour giving) devices among our Urban Youth.
“It should be noted that one hour of Shisha smoking is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes all at once, and as for E-Cigarettes, our youths are misled in thinking that they are safer since they don’t involve cigar smoke,” he noted
He added that the truth is these gadgets contain a very high Nicotine level and ZACT proposes that the importation of these novel Nicotine products be stopped before having a serious outbreak in their use.
Mr Mulenga noted that in some States in United States of America (USA), E-Cigarettes have been banned and that several African Countries like Botswana, Namibia, Ghana and Kenya are way ahead of Zambia in domesticating the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) recommendations.
Mr Mulenga has questioned the major reason that is stopping the country from taking similar action, and he suspects that the strong hand of the Tobacco Industry interference in these matters and therefore, urges the Government to be alert to these Tobacco Industry conspiracies.
“Pass the Tobacco Control Bill,” he cited
The Tobacco Control Draft Bill Act provides for the declaration of tobacco products, tobacco devices, nicotine products and nicotine devices as a restricted product, and protection of present and future generations from the devastating health, social, consumption, nicotine addiction, and exposure to the harmful emissions of both tobacco and nicotine products and devices to the prevention of use initiation, continually and substantially reducing consumption of tobacco and nicotine products and devices.
While the Pro-Tobacco-Industry Tobacco Bill provides for the strengthening of the Tobacco Industry activities with a plan to promote the growth of tobacco, while putting in place sale and promotion strategies and taking in measures to redesign the Tobacco Board of Zambia.
Zambia Alliance for Tobacco Control (ZATC) is a coalition of the Anti-Tobacco Civil Societies in Zambia whose mandate is to curb the use of tobacco and ensure public health is attained in the country.