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Saturday, September 23, 2017

TTCF wary of increased tobacco farming, trade

TANZANIA Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF) has raised concern about the increasing trend in tobacco farming and trade in Tanzania, calling upon the national leaders to assist farmers to switch off to alternative crops and find viable and sustainable markets for their produce.

The Forum noted that tobacco companies whose business have failed in Kenya and Uganda have opened offices in Tanzania, promoting tobacco farming particularly in new areas, where farmers are unaware of the implied hazards.
TTCF Executive Director, Ms Lutgard Kagaruki, cautioned that increased tobacco production would result into increased tobacco use and occurrence of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and other tobacco-related diseases and environmental destruction.
Ms Kagaruki noted that, globally, tobacco kills more than 7 million smokers per year and another 700,000 non-smokers exposed to tobacco smoke. She said realising the globalisation of the tobacco epidemic; the World Health Organisation (WHO) instituted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), whose main objective is to protect current and future generations from the devastating health, economic, social and environmental consequences of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.
To date, 180 countries including Tanzania have ratified the WHO FCTC, representing about 90 per cent of the global population, noting that countries that have implemented the FCTC effectively, have registered lower smoking rates, together with decreasing tobacco related diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and lung disease which are the major NCDs.
She called upon the government to fully implement the FCTC. “We urge our government leaders to take note of the fact that tobacco is a national hazard; it’s a crop that will benefit neither the farmer nor the nation, except tobacco companies.
We therefore request them to join hands with other leaders in East Africa, Africa and globally; to spearhead the war against tobacco,” she said. She said as the 2017 theme for WHO World No Tobacco Day stated – “Tobacco, a threat to development”; there is no country that has ever prospered from tobacco businesses.
Ms Kagaruki said tobacco farming and trade has declined drastically in developed countries, forcing international tobacco companies to flock to developing countries to sustain their business, citing Malawi as a leading tobacco producer in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to her, Malawi has the lowest GDP, with three quarters of its green land turning into a desert due to massive wood-fuel required for tobacco curing.
She said similarly, Tabora Region, a major tobacco producer in Tanzania, lost forest worth more than 20bn/- due to tobacco curing between 2010 and 2011 in addition, while the average per capita income for Tanzania is 362,000/-, the rate for Tabora is 297,000/-.
A health survey carried out at Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) and Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in 2009 showed that, treatment of tobacco-related cancers cost the country more than 89bn/- per year; while another study at MNH in 2014 indicated that treatment of tobacco-related cardiovascular disease cost the nation more than 400bn/- per year.

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