Tobacco, a threat to development

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29, 2017 – Every year on May 31, Kenya joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to mark the World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), to highlight the health risks associated with tobacco use, and advocate for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption.

The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2017 is “Tobacco – a threat to development,”  and  the Ministry of Health will join the WHO to mark the day on May 31, to demonstrate the threats that the tobacco industry poses to the sustainable development of all countries, including the health and economic well-being of their citizens and propose measures that governments and the public should take to promote health and development by confronting the global tobacco crisis.

The goal of the World Tobacco Day 2017 campaign is to highlight the links between the use of tobacco products, tobacco control and sustainable development; encourage countries to include tobacco control in their national responses to 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; to support Member States and civil society to combat tobacco industry interference in political processes, in turn leading to stronger national tobacco control action; to encourage broader public and partner participation in national, regional and global efforts to develop and implement development strategies and plans and achieve goals that prioritize action on tobacco control and to demonstrate how individuals can contribute to making a sustainable, tobacco-free world, either by committing to never taking up tobacco products, or by quitting the habit.

In Kenya, tobacco use and exposure STEPwise Survey 2015 revealed that 23.0% of men, 4.1% of women and overall 13.3% currently use tobacco; 19.7% of men, 0.9% of women and overall 10.6% currently smoke tobacco; 4.0 % of men, 3.3 % of women and overall 3.6% currently use smokeless tobacco.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2014 also revealed that 72 % of daily tobacco users use tobacco within 30 minutes of waking up and 10 smokers attempted to quit smoking in the past 12 months. The report also indicated that 21% of Kenyans were exposed to tobacco smoke at the workplace and 24 %  were exposed to tobacco smoke at home.

The WHO is therefore calling on countries to prioritize and accelerate tobacco control efforts as part of their responses to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. All countries benefit from successfully controlling the tobacco epidemic, above all by protecting their citizens from the harms of tobacco use and reducing its economic toll on national economies. The aim of the Sustainable Development Agenda, and its 17 global goals, is to ensure that “no one is left behind.”

Tobacco use and exposure directly impacts goal 3 and 4 of SDG, by 2030 reduce by one third premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and impacts all other goals either directly or indirectly.

The diseases caused by tobacco use impose high productivity costs to the economy because of sick workers and those who die prematurely during their working years. Lost economic opportunities in highly-populated developing countries will be particularly severe as tobacco use is high and growing in those areas

The WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) is the first public health treaty and it proposes measures to be used internationally and nationally to reduce the tobacco epidemic.

In addition to saving lives and reducing health inequalities, comprehensive tobacco control contains the adverse environmental impact of tobacco growing, manufacturing, trade and consumption.

Tobacco control can break the cycle of poverty, contribute to ending hunger, promote sustainable agriculture and economic growth, and combat climate change. Increasing taxes on tobacco products can also be used to finance universal health coverage and other development programs of the government.

It is not only governments who can step up tobacco control efforts: people can contribute on an individual level to making a sustainable, tobacco-free world. People can commit to never take up tobacco products. Those who do use tobacco can quit the habit, or seek help in doing so, which will in turn protect their health as well as people exposed to second-hand smoke, including children, other family members and friends.

Money not spent on tobacco can be, in turn, used for other essential uses, including the purchase of healthy food, healthcare and education.

The major event will be held on  31st May 2017 at Panafric hotel.