Tobacco use leading cause of preventable death


NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31, 2017 – Tobacco use is now the top most preventable cause of death and one of the four risk factors raising the burden of Non communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country.

According to the Principal Secretary for Health, Mr. Julius Korir more than 50% of the hospital admissions are due to NCDs and on average 80% of premature deaths are related to the use or exposure tobacco thus straining Kenya’s efforts to achieving its development goals.

“These diseases are not only burdening the health system but also resulting to high productivity costs to the economy, said Mr. Korir in a speech read by the Senior Deputy Director of Medical Services, Dr. Patrick Amoth, on the World No Tobacco Day event and launch of the National Guidelines for Tobacco Dependence and Cessation on Tuesday.

The PS lamented that tobacco epidemic cannot be ignored any more as tobacco threatens everyone through its health, social, economic and environmental consequences.

The 2015 STEPwise Survey for Non-communicable Diseases risk factors, revealed that 13% of adults use tobacco products and one in five Kenyans are exposed to second hand tobacco smoke at home.

The Global Youth Tobacco Survey of 2013 also showed that 10% of Kenyan youth aged 13 to 15 years are regular consumers of tobacco products. The Global Adult Tobacco Survey of 2014 revealed that half of the current smokers have attempted to quit smoking in past 12 months.

“This demonstrates a need to avail cessation services to Kenyans. Tobacco cessation interventions offered by the health care systems are more effective than individual based interventions,” the PS noted.

He added, “the linkage of tobacco and the sustainable development goals has already been aptly demonstrated and the onus is on us to ultimately and decisively work together to ensure that effects of tobacco use and exposure are done away with. This will only be achieved by zealous implementation of the WHO Frame work for tobacco control and the Tobacco Control Act of 2007,” stressed Mr. Korir.

The PS said the launch and implementation of the tobacco cessation guidelines will be an integral initial step in preventing tobacco related threats. “The wide usage of the guidelines including use at community level will ensure services are available and accessible. The NHIF also provides cover for tobacco cessation under addiction to substance use disorder package,” he revealed.

The Ministry of Health has a track record in successes achieved in tobacco control both locally and internationally. “Although, we are still having a pending court case filled by the industry against the tobacco regulation we are very hopeful that the public health interest of the country will carry the day. We shall continue to provide leadership at national, regional and global levels in implementation of the WHO – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” the PS said.

This year’s No Tobacco day theme “Tobacco – a threat to development” reaffirms the need to look at the tobacco control through a whole society approach and not just as a health issue. It is also a call for the ministry and partners to examine more keenly the role of tobacco on projected poverty and development.