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Cabinet Secretary Calls For Action On World No Tobacco Day: "Grow Food, Not Tobacco"

Migori County - Kenya, May 31, 2023 - Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha S. Susan has emphasized the urgent need for action against tobacco consumption during the commemoration of World No Tobacco Day in Uriri Sub-County, Migori County.
Under the theme "Grow Food, NOT Tobacco," the event focused on combating food insecurity within Kenya and the region. The Cabinet Secretary highlighted the detrimental effects of tobacco use, which remains a leading cause of preventable diseases and premature death worldwide. In Kenya, tobacco-related illnesses significantly contribute to the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory conditions.
During the event, Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha underscored the importance of raising awareness among the youth about the dangers of tobacco use. She emphasized the need to educate the younger generation about the risks associated with tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and tobacco pouches specifically targeted at young people. Through collaboration with the education sector, the Ministry of Health has integrated tobacco control into the school curriculum, aiming to discourage young people from initiating tobacco use and empowering them to become agents of change in society.
In addition, Cabinet Secretary highlighted the potential of agriculture as a solution to address both food security and health challenges. Kenya's fertile lands and diverse climates present an opportunity to shift focus from tobacco cultivation to food production. This transition would not only contribute to a healthier nation but also strengthen the agricultural sector. 
Tobacco farming depletes agricultural resources, contributes to deforestation, and exacerbates the effects of climate change. On the other hand, investing in food production promotes sustainable farming practices, preserves ecosystems, and ensures food security and proper nutrition for the population.
While acknowledging the economic contributions of the tobacco industry, she stressed the need to prioritize the health and well-being of citizens. She also emphasized the importance of transitioning from tobacco cultivation to alternative, sustainable industries that provide employment and economic opportunities while safeguarding public health.
As a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Kenya is committed to implementing evidence-based tobacco control measures. The Ministry of Health has strengthened tobacco control policies and legislation, including the introduction of pictorial health warnings on cigarette packages, restrictions on smoking in public places, and regulations prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors.
The commemoration of World No Tobacco Day brought together various stakeholders, including the Governor of Migori, Hon. Ochillo Ayacko, principal Secretary medical services Harry Kimtai representatives from the World Health Organization, Members of Parliament, and senior government officials.