The Anti Tobacco Network of Botswana (ATNB) has reiterated its commitment to fight illicit tobacco trade in the country.

The organisation held a press conference this week to brief the media about tobacco activities and policies.

They also enlightened journalists about issues to be discussed at the forthcoming Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which will be held at Russia in October.

Speaking at the briefing, the Acting ATNB board chairperson Gaesi Mophuting Maviya told reporters that they recognize the media as an advocate for correct behavior.

She said the mission of the tobacco industry is to perpetuate poverty by deceiving the public into believing that cigarette sales would improve their economic status.

“From our research tobacco companies in Botswana are undermining government efforts to protect public health.

We cannot continue to watch the tobacco industry supplying cigarettes to street vendors to sell in bulk to members of the public including children under the age of 18.

We look forward to government adopting a strong FCTC compliant legislation.

We are aware of tobacco industry’s underground works to delay the adoption of legislation,” said Maviya

Health information and Promotion officer Moagi Gaborone said FCTC is a World Health Organisation (WHO) binding international law that addresses a global health challenge.

He said it is a comprehensive law that promotes a multi-sectoral and all of government approach to tobacco control.

“Botswana has already signed the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in tobacco products and is preparing to ratify it.

After ratifying and applying protocol majors it will mean declaring manufacturing, importing or exporting illicit tobacco products unlawful.

Raising taxes on tobacco is a very effective way of reducing its affordability and consumption,” said Gaborone.

He said revenues collected from the tax like Botswana’s tobacco levy can be used to prevent tobacco induced illness by educating people on the ills of its consumptions and rehabilitation of the affected.

Gaborone also said the tobacco industry found loopholes to shut down anyone who threaten their business.

He said it is possible that they can go to an extent of funding political campaigns because they know members of parliament contribute in law making.

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