WHO: Tobacco kills 146 000 Africans every year
Tobacco kills 8 million people each year, while across Africa, 146 000 people die from related diseases annually, the World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed.
In a recent message on its Twitter Account, the WHO regional office for Africa said tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the world.
WHO says tobacco control actions will prevent young people from starting to use tobacco, help current tobacco users to quit and protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke.
In the African Region, 44 countries have ratified or acceded to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Strengthening the implementation of the convention is one of the big challenges for countries in the African Region.
Countries in the African Region are experiencing an increasing rate of tobacco use. The fast growth of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa and an increase in consumer purchasing power is leading to larger and more accessible markets in Africa. In addition to that there are the intensive efforts by the tobacco industry to expand African markets.
Prevention is therefore the most cost-effective measure. Comprehensive monitoring informs the governments and civil society on how the tobacco epidemic harms their countries, and helps them to allocate tobacco control resources where they are most needed and will be most effective.
WHO efforts are being mostly hampered by Western tobacco multinationals doing selling tobacco products in Africa.
Last year, there were reports that industry giant British American Tobacco (BAT) doled out payments to dozens of individuals and conducted ‘potentially unlawful surveillance’ to tighten its market grip on the African continent.
Described by researchers as the “powerful" and "explosive", the two reports, released by STOP - a global tobacco industry watchdog in partnership with The Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath - follows the analysis of whistleblower documents and court records.
The whistleblower documents connected to BAT’s work in East and Central Africa revealed evidence of questionable payments made in Burundi, Comoros, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Researchers identified 236 payments made between 2008 and 2013 totaling US $601,502 that were allegedly used to try to influence policy and sabotage competitors.