Tobacco use is the world’s leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death to countries and families according to the WHO. It is also the only legal product that kills when used as intended by the manufacturer.
- Tobacco use kills more than HIV/AIDS, TB, Malaria, road accidents and homicides combined and it is a risk factor for the 6 of the 8 leading causes of death in the world. It kills nearly 6 million people each year globally, and over five million of them are direct tobacco users while more than 600,000 are non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke. Nearly 80% of the world’s one billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Unless urgent action is taken, the annual global death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030(WHO).
- In Uganda, over 13,500 people die from tobacco related illnesses each year (WHO). Tobacco use among the youth is on the rise now estimated at 17% overall (Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS), 2011). The same study, estimates that 19% of secondary school students, and about 35% of the students in tertiary institutions use tobacco. New deceptively attractive tobacco products like kuber, shisha/hookar, khutica and tobacco candy, many of which have been banned in their countries of origin, are being promoted in Uganda to lure youth into tobacco use. The World Bank estimates that for every US$1 Uganda receives from the tobacco industry as revenue, the government spends US$3 on treating tobacco-related illnesses and diseases.
Uganda signed the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2004 and ratified it in 2007. As a Party to the WHO FCTC, the Government of Uganda is obligated to abide by its international commitments to protect its public health policies related to tobacco control from the commercial interests of the tobacco industry. Article 13 of the FCTC requires parties like Uganda to implement and enforce a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship within five years of ratifying the FCTC. Uganda is already 2 years past the deadline of domesticating the WHO FCTC.
On 6th March 2014, a Tobacco Control Bill 2014 (TC Bill) was presented to Parliament by a private member and referred by the Speaker of Parliament to the Committee on Health for scrutiny. Section 207(1) of our rules of procedure require that the committees report back to the house within 45 days. On the contrary, the TC Bill has remained with the committee on health for a good 11 months!!!!!. It is hoped that Uganda will not get into a “Kenya situation” which has resulted into a delay in the implementation of its 2007 Act.
Let us join hands to protect Ugandans from the devastating effects of tobacco use. Ugandans deserve a strong Tobacco Control Law!