GOOBJOOG NEWS: As the world commemorates the World No Tobacco Day, WHO says that tobacco users in the African Region has increased from an estimated 64 million adult users in 2000 to 73 million in 2018.
According to WHO, this is partly due to the increased production of tobacco products as well as aggressive marketing by the tobacco industry.
“The tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health challenges the world has ever faced, killing more than eight million people around the world every year. While the number of people using tobacco products is decreasing in other parts of the world, it is rising in the Africa Region.”
WHO’s theme this year is “Grow Food, Not Tobacco” which provides an opportunity for the globe to highlight the dangers associated with tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
It is also renews global advocacy for effective policies to halt the tobacco epidemic and its impact on individuals, societies, and nations.
The Theme, according to WHO aims to raise awareness about alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable, nutritious crops.
“The theme seeks to expose the tobacco industry’s efforts to interfere with attempts to substitute tobacco growing with sustainable crops, thereby worsening the global food crisis. It calls on all of us to explore how food and agricultural policies make adequate nutritious food and healthy diets available while reducing tobacco production.”
WHO argues that Tobacco growing and production exacerbates nutrition and food insecurity as tobacco farming destroys the ecosystems, depletes soils of fertility, contaminates water bodies and pollutes the environment.
“Any profits to be gained from tobacco as a cash crop may not offset the damage done to sustainable food production in low- and middle-income countries,” the organizations says.
WHO data also shows that nearly 828 million people are facing hunger globally 278 million (20%) of whom are in Africa and 57.9% of people in the continent suffer from moderate to severe food insecurity.
This, WHO argues jeopardizes the region’s attainment of SDG 2 which aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
“While the area under tobacco cultivation decreased by 15.7% globally, in Africa it increased by 3.4% from 2012 to 2018. During this period, tobacco leaf production globally reduced by 13.9%; however, it increased by 10.6% in Africa. In recent years, tobacco cultivation has shifted to Africa because of a regulatory environment that is more favorable to the tobacco industry, as well as increasing demand for tobacco.”
- By Fauxile Kibet