Follow the money: World No Tobacco Day 2014

Alice Tembe, CNS Correspondent, Swaziland
In the effort to curb the over half a million deaths due to second hand smoking which took place in 2011 as indicated by The Tobacco Atlas (, it is continuously becoming indicative that a single strategy will not resolve the tobacco challenge. Public health strategies to increase public awareness in order to prevent and demand recourse against the harmful effects of tobacco products, use of mass media (including social networking sites that target the younger generation) to desist from starting smoking; marketing bans and litigation are key strategies that countries can adopt in this effort.

Further, according to Dr Ehsan Latif, the Director of Tobacco Control International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union), increase in the tobacco tax in every country can increase governments’ revenues as well as contribute to funding preventive interventions to curb the harmful impact of tobacco consumption.

These efforts are already underway in the Kingdom of Swaziland, according to Ms. Lindiwe Tsabedze of the National TB Control Programme, through public awareness dialogues on tobacco and its effects which are conducted at community level, in schools and in the workplaces. The messages are centred on promoting non-use of tobacco and its products. Ms. Tsabedze highlighted that legislations have been passed to support this work--particularly efforts to control tobacco and its products marketing in the country. The legislation system will enable the different strategies on tobacco control to be enforceable.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) recommends that countries should implement tax and price policies on tobacco products in order to reduce tobacco consumption. This recommendation will also discourage industries that produce tobacco products, as currently the revenue made from tobacco products is huge. In Swaziland, through the Ministry of Health Legal Advisor’s Office, Ms. Vuyile Dlamini, a policy is being crafted on the national anti-tobacco strategies. These efforts can actually be funded through the tax on tobacco products and not eat into the government budget.

It is notable to indicate that tobacco is the only legally available product that can kill up to one half of their regular users if consumed as recommended by the manufacturer. This reality unfortunately is not apparent to most tobacco products users. Suffice to say that all countries need to drive the anti-tobacco strategies with increased intensity. Unless urgent action is taken, tobacco related deaths will increase to more than 8 million per year in 2030, particularly affecting the low and middle income countries.

Alice Tembe, Citizen News Service - CNS 
6 June 2014