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Tobacco related illnesses kill 13,000 Ugandans annually

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd March 2015 01:32 PM

Many young people are taking to smoking because of deceptions in form of advertising and marketing by the tobacco industries. They smoke because the tobacco industry wants them to think that smoking is a cool thing to do.

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Many young people are taking to smoking because of deceptions in form of advertising and marketing by the tobacco industries. They smoke because the tobacco industry wants them to think that smoking is a cool thing to do.

Deusdedit Ruhangariyo

Many young people are taking to smoking because of deceptions in form of advertising and marketing by the tobacco industries. They smoke because the tobacco industry wants them to think that smoking is a cool thing to do.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 13,000 people in Uganda die every year due to tobacco related illnesses. WHO says that tobacco kills more people than HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, homicide, and accidents combined in the East African region as a whole.

And yet, all the East African countries are party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which they have all ratified.

“The East African governments and policymakers are obligated to adopt and implement effective measures for preventing and reducing tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke in their respective countries,” said Dr. Lulume Bayiga. The shadow minister foe health was speaking at a half day meeting of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWPA) and Civil Society Organizations organized by Uganda Health Consumers Organization in Kampala.

Presenting a paper about the economics of tobacco, Ronald Reagan Namanya, a tobacco control consultant economist said that over 470,000 youth ages 12 – 14 are regular smokers in East Africa.

Escalating death toll
He added that over 8000 annual adult deaths in all the five East African countries are attributable to tobacco with Tanzania taking the highest toll of 3,334 deaths annually, followed by Uganda with 2,121, Kenya 1,926, Rwanda 556 and Burundi with 241 totaling to 8,179.

Namanya said that the people who die annually in Uganda due to tobacco related causes can be stopped through legislation. He made a passionate appeal to the legislators to pass the Tobacco Control Bill 2014 to stop the escalating loss of lives of Ugandans .

According to World Health Organisation, about 1.8m children in all the five East African countries are potential smokers by 2020.

Social economic costs of tobacco cultivation
Tobacco cultivation is associated with very high costs of production; –labour-intensive (mostly women and children); high cost of firewood energy for curing the leaf; heavy feeder on constant use of fertilizers and pesticides.

Namanya says that tobacco cultivation has significantly contributed to illiteracy as school going children drop out so as tend to tobacco farms adding that 9% of school drop-outs in Uganda is attributed to tobacco farming.

Tobacco cultivation fuels food insecurity as large chunks of land are utilized for tobacco cultivation yet tobacco is mono-cropped all year long and contract farming gives the tobacco industry greater room for manipulation of leaf prices resulting in meager earnings per acre per annum and thus contributing to the vicious cycle of poverty especially among tobacco growing communities in Uganda, he adds.

Effects on the environment

According to Namanya, tobacco is vulnerable to pests and weather and is thus a heaver feeder on pesticides and fertilizers which are known to cause; water pollution, soils degradation and exposure to pesticide poisoning.

He says that curing of tobacco leaf consumes a lot of wood energy which causes massive deforestation. Uganda losses more than 88,000 hectares of forest cover annually to tobacco-related cultivation.

More land has also been dedicated to tobacco cultivation, this means that less arable land is available for food and other crop production and contributes to food insecurity and malnutrition, he adds.

 

Tobacco related illnesses kill 13,000 Ugandans annually

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