Police, municipalities disregard tobacco law

HARARE - Zimbabwean law enforcement agents and municipalities have been disregarding a 2002 directive prohibiting the sale of loose cigarettes, among other unpacked foodstuffs and consumable goods, it has emerged.

Although public health officials led by minister David Parirenyatwa — the driver of the key legislation nearly 12 years ago — were unreachable for comment this week, a statutory instrument (SI) 264 of 2002 on the control of tobacco products was promulgated in the interest of curbing the spread of communicable diseases, among other objectives.

According to the long-standing decree, it clearly states that “no person shall sell any unpackaged tobacco product” on Zimbabwe’s streets, yet “illicit trade ” seems to be the order of day in and around the country.

With over 60 percent of the cigarettes puffed away in the country sold in sticks, there has been a major concern on their potentiality to be a vector of numerous diseases such as typhoid, cholera and others.

In this regard, vendors and other retailers have been under the spotlight as they remain oblivious of law — and potential health hazards or risks that they are promoting through the sale of loose cigarettes at street corners, and other unregulated zones.

According to a 2008 World Health Organisation (WHO) survey, nearly 21 percent of local men take a variety of tobacco products, while the number is estimated at 70-85 percent across Africa.

While economic hardships — and cultural issues — have forced many smokers to go for their “nicotine fix” in loose sticks rather than full packs, consumers remain oblivious to the fact that these cigarettes can be a deadly, if not lethal, source of easily communicable diseases.

According to the United Nations, there are 27 000-plus cholera infections in sub-Saharan Africa and over 2 800 deaths each year. However, it is not clear how many of these incidences are clearly attributable to this practice or culture. The concerns come as the country remains threatened by a rising tide of communicable diseases, including typhoid, cholera and dysentery.

According to a regular Health ministry update, about 85 typhoid cases were recorded in the lead-up to Christmas in Manicaland province along.

Even, though, the sale of loose cigarettes is mainly driven by cost considerations — and especially in a situation where a single stick costs R1 in Zimbabwe and as opposed to $2-plus for a box of 20’s — health experts contend that this practice remains one of the deadliest points for communicable disease transmission.

Comments (2)

kutengesa one one kungazi imhosvawo here akomana? dai vatorambidza kubhemera pane ruzhinji sepa que yemakombi kana mubar kana pamusika pakazara vanhu

Tada Dee - 6 January 2014

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Real - 7 January 2014

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