Bleak future for tobacco advertising

HARARE - The future of tobacco advertising hangs in the balance as government considers a ban.

Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera said tobacco consumption should be aggressively suppressed to eliminate unnecessary expenditures on treating tobacco-related diseases.

“We are going where we will not have cigarette advertising posters or billboards on our roads anymore,” Madzorera said.

Madzorera was speaking following World Oral Health Day commemorations where tobacco was identified as a major threat to oral health.

“Sometimes we really need to do a cost-benefit analysis where we say after earning whatever we earn, how much are we losing in treatment of lung cancer, oral, cardiovascular diseases and many other associated diseases,” said Madzorera.

Statistics show the country earns millions in tobacco exports every year.

Many countries globally have adopted strict cigarette marketing and consuming laws, including the use of plain white packaging and heavy tax.

Madzorera said Zimbabwe should adopt such practices.

Finance minister Tendai Biti hiked excise duty on alcohol and cigarettes in the 2013 National Budget saying the proceeds would bankroll education.

Madzorera said though the move is good, health problems associated with such harmful activities should be part of the reasons of hiking such taxes.

“Increasing sin taxes was good. However, his (Biti) decision left out the health aspect of it.
“People should know that smoking is not just a cost to government but to their lives too,” he said.

Experts say at least 90 percent of the world’s population is at risk of some form of dental disorder.

“Tobacco is a risk factor for oral cancer, oral cancer recurrence, adult periodontal diseases, and congenital defects such as cleft lip and palate in children,” Zimbabwe Dental Association said in a statement.   

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), more deaths occur due to tobacco use than to HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined.

“Smoking causes an estimated 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths in women.

“An estimated 90 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease are caused by smoking,” according to the CDCP.

Tobacco can cause at least 11 types of cancers namely acute myeloid leukaemia, bladder cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, cancer of the mouth, cervix, oesophagus, voice box, throat and stomach cancer. - Wendy Muperi

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