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Health officials to inspect bars, slums for tobacco abuse

By Norah Mutesi

Added 4th June 2019 12:33 PM

Opendi said 75% of lung cancers can be prevented by reaching out to tobacco users and only if people adhere to the law prohibiting smoking of tobacco in public.

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Activists matching along Kampala road creating awareness during the Tobacco free campaign recently. ( Photo by Ivan Kabuye. )

Opendi said 75% of lung cancers can be prevented by reaching out to tobacco users and only if people adhere to the law prohibiting smoking of tobacco in public.

The state minister for health in charge of general duties, Sarah Opendi has asked health officials to routinely inspect entertainment spots and slums to enforce the law against public smoking and tobacco abuse.
 
The minister made the call during celebrations to mark World No Tobacco Day at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala. She first raised concern that the event was being held in a hotel and not in one of the areas where public smoking is rampant.
 
She noted that the law against smoking and selling of tobacco in Uganda is in place but people are still smoking openly, infecting other people.
 
The World No Tobacco Day was commemorated under the theme: Tobacco and Lung Health. The Uganda Tobacco Control Act, which prohibits smoking in public places, came into force in 2015.
 
( Left to right) Minister for health in charge of general duties, Sarah Opendi, director general health services, Dr. Henry Mwebesa, and commissioner clinical services, Ministry of Health, Dr.Jackson Amone during the Tobacco-free campaign event at Sheraton hotel Kampala recently. (Photo by Ivan Kabuye)
 
The minister said the hotels and the entertainment places should prohibit people from smoking tobacco in their places and said they would face sanctions if they don’t adhere to the tobacco control law.
 
“Our role as government is to see everyone free from tobacco. Information should be taken to people who do not know the dangers of smoking tobacco,” Opendi said.
 
Opendi said 75% of lung cancers can be prevented by reaching out to tobacco users and only if people adhere to the law prohibiting smoking of tobacco in public.
 
“We need to reach out to young adolescents so that they are not lured into smoking,” Opendi said.
 
Dr. Hafsa Lukwata tobacco control focal person said that they carried out a survey and found out that tobacco use among youth had reduced from 15.7% in the 1990s to 10.5% in 2013.
 
“One day, we shall see tobacco smoking come to an end,” Lukwata said.
 
Dr. Katagira Winceslaus a physician at Makerere Lung Institute, said tobacco has 4,000 chemicals and 40 cancer-causing agents.
 
He said tobacco smoking reduces one’s ability to fight lung infections and that it exposes one to engage in the consumption of cocaine.
 
He said that exposure to tobacco causes diseases like Tuberculosis, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis among other chronic diseases.
 
Daniel Okello Director of Public Health at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), said KCCA has impounded close to 800kg of shisha as a way of controlling tobacco use and added that they will sanction shops and everyone involved in selling shisha and cigarettes in Uganda.
 
“Even those who allow people to smoke in their premises are likely to be sanctioned and their licence withdrawn by KCCA,” Okello said.

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