World Health Organisation, WHO, has announced increase in Africa of persons dying from smoking tobacco.
WHO Africa’s regional director, Matshidiso Moeti’s message in commemoration of ‘World No Tobacco Day’, celebrated every May 31 contained this announcement declaring that adult smokers’ death arising from the unhealthy habit has jumped from an estimated 64 million in 2000 to 73 million in 2018 in the region.
Moeti entreated Africans to dump tobacco cultivation and aspire after food security in relation to the theme of the occasion, ‘Grow food, not tobacco’.
The WHO official stated that the theme aimed to raise awareness about alternative crop production and marketing opportunities for tobacco farmers and encourage them to grow sustainable, nutritious crops.
According to her, the theme also 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,” she said.
According to her, Africa is experiencing an increase.
“The tobacco industry’s strong marketing campaigns and increased tobacco product production are also contributing factors to this,’’ she said.
Ms Moeti appealed to tobacco-growing countries in the Africa Region to step up the implementation of Articles 17 and 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).
According to her, such can be done by enacting legislation, developing and implementing suitable policies and strategies, and enabling market conditions for tobacco farmers to shift to growing food crops.
The WHO director added that such would help their families with a better life while enhancing the protection of the environment and people’s health.
“With such action, we will be growing food, which our populations need, not tobacco,’’ Ms Moeti said.