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World No Tobacco Day: calls for Kenya to ban menthol cigarettes

World No Tobacco Day: calls for Kenya to ban menthol cigarettes

Kenya is on the right track in combating tobacco smoking through strong control policies, a report by the Ministry of Health has revealed.

The report, which notes a number of significant challenges, says tobacco-related diseases kill at least 8,100 Kenyans, while over 220,000 children and more than 2.7 million adults smoke tobacco daily.

Tobacco Control Board in the Country is now recommending a ban of menthol cigarettes, popularly known as flavoured and the implementation of selling cigarettes in packets and not single sticks.

According to a study by the International Tobacco Control, the overall percentage of tobacco users who are smokers in Kenya is 72 percent with 27 percent smokeless users and 2 percent mixed users. The findings also established that males are the most smokers at 79 percent, smokeless users at 17 percent and mixed users at 2 percent. Females who smoke were at 34 percent, smokeless users at 67 percent and mixed users at 0 percent.

The report further highlights how the tobacco industry continues to be the biggest threat in tobacco control efforts in Kenya and globally. It has interfered with the government efforts to protect public health through overt and convert ways.

In a report by Consumer Interference Network (CIN) CEO Samwel Ochieng, “the board’s cessation efforts have been interfered with where the Tobacco Industry expands their product portfolio to attract new consumers and retain old ones. The industry also targets youths where they provide misleading information on flavoured cigarettes to be harmless.”

The National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) conducts surveys every 5 years. Their latest findings show that tobacco is the second most abused drug in the country, and the age range is 15-65 years 8 percent-16 percent. NACADA CEO Victor Okioma noted that they are planning a 24-hour free help airline where addicts can get help.

The report was launched as Kenya joined the rest of the globe in commemorating ‘World No Tobacco Day’ themed “Commit to Quit”.

The day is observed annually on May 31 to highlight the risk associated with the use of tobacco. The annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness to help reduce use and protect the health of the people. In 1988the World Health Organisation declared May 31, ‘World No Smoking Day’. In 2008, the WHO banned any kind of advertisement or promotion about tobacco, thinking that probably the ads entice youth to indulge in smoking.

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