ATN wages war against tobacco industry
A workshop organized by pressure organisation, Anti-Tobacco Network (ATN), this week threw some light into the dark realities of the impact of tobacco trade in the socio-economic lives of Batswana.
Nearly 2 years after it was established, ATN- a non-governmental and non-profit making organization is already having its presence felt as it moves to curb tobacco promotion and consumption.
This week the organisation that is based at the University of Botswana brought together members of the media to sensitise them on matters of tobacco control.
The organisation’s Executive Director Dr Bontle Mbongwe did not mince her words as she accused the tobacco industry of hindering governments efforts to eradicate poverty.
She said the industry’s mission was to perpetuate poverty by deceiving the public into believing that cigarettes sales would improve their economic status.
“The reality is that by promoting the use of an addictive and toxic substance that kills when consumed as promoted by its manufacturers,
the industry flouts both the government’s agenda to reduce tobacco consumption whilst also working against the programmes geared at eradicating poverty,” she said.
Tobacco use is said to be the leading preventable cause of death with the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimating about 6million people to have died from it in 2011.
Eighty percent of the deaths are said to have occurred in low and middle income countries.
WHO further estimates that every ten seconds, somewhere in the world tobacco kills another victim.
In the light of the depressing statistics, ATN Acting Board Chair, Gaesi Mophuting- Maviya says should the current smoking trends continue, the toll would increase up to one tobacco caused death every three seconds over the next thirty to forty years.
“With prolonged smoking, smokers have a death rate about three times higher than non-smokers at all ages from young adulthood,” she said.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Shanaaz El Halabi said government was faced with serious challenges from the tobacco industry which, she said, beats their efforts opf protecting public health.
“It uses its economic power to lobby in order to propagate the sale and distribution of its deadly products,” she said and added that one of the industry’s tactics is that it is active on the ground with its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).