Tobacco is a silent killer, cries Prof. Fastone Matthew Goma
Tobacco is a silent killer, cries Prof. Fastone Matthew Goma
By Derrick Sinjela
THE World Health Organisation (WHO) World No Tobacco Day theme on Monday 31st May 2021 is ‘Quit tobacco to be a winner’ with Zambia Tobacco Control Consortium (ZTCC) Chairperson Professor Fastone Matthew Goma leading the fight, during commemoration Media Briefing convened by Center for Primary Care Research (CPCR) Director at Longacres Lodge in Lusaka.
During an interactive briefing witnessed by CPCR Projects Manager Ms. Charity Syatalimi, Anti-Alcohol and Drug Abuse of Zambia (AADAZ) Executive Director Evelyn Moloka, Mental Health Users Network of Zambia (MHUNZA) Content and Media Manager, Ms. Mwisala de Villiers, Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) member Mrs. Muchemwa Ililonga Sinkala and CPCR Communications Officer Ms. Paxina Phiri, Professor Goma is increasingly worried at the numerous negative consequences of smoking which compromise the health of users.
“Tobacco firms are investing massively in strategies and technology initiating people least 1.4 million Zambians are using tobacco products, over 80 per cent in rural areas. The tobacco industry sees a huge market in Africa inundating the continent with e-cigarettes misleadingly brandishing them as quit aids and harm reduction products,” cautioned Professor Goma as he prodded the Zambia Media Network Against Tobacco (ZAMNAT) to interact with the Centre for Primary Care Research (CPCR) in raising awareness.
On her part, ZAMNAT Chairperson Ms. Phiri says it is erroneous to suggest that tobacco earns Zambia income.
Read a full Media Statement on Page 3…” ZAMBIA TOBACCO CONTROL CONSORTIUM
C/o Centre for Primary Care Research, Lusaka
WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY 2021
PRESS BRIEFING – Monday 31st May, 2021
THEME : COMMIT TO QUIT
Members of the Press
I WELCOME you to this Press Conference as we commemorate the World No Tobacco Day with a Theme, “Commit to Quit.”
The theme for our celebration of the World No Tobacco Day 2021 is a special request to smokers; “Commit to Quit”. This message is particularly timely, especially at a time when the world continues to struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has clearly stated that “smokers are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death” from COVID-19. Committing to quit at this time not only helps to guarantee good health and the wellbeing of the population, but it will greatly reduce the enormous economic and social burdens governments currently undergo as a result of the pandemic.
The Member States of the World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987 to draw global attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. In 1987, the World Health Assembly passed Resolution WHA40.38, calling for 7 April 1988 to be a “a world no-smoking day.” In 1988, Resolution WHA42.19 was passed, calling for the celebration of World No Tobacco Day, every year on 31 May.
The theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day also provides us an opportunity to highlight the importance of tobacco cessation.
Offering help to quit tobacco use, is one of six cost-effective and high impact measures that helps countries reduce demand for tobacco. These measures, known as MPOWER also include; Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies, Protecting people from tobacco smoke, Warning about the dangers of tobacco, Enforcing bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and Raising taxes on tobacco. Unfortunately, despite being one of the most important MPOWER measures, offering help to quit tobacco has been identified as the most under-utilized of these measures.
Article 14 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) promotes tobacco cessation awareness and support for tobacco dependence. However, the WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic, 2017 detailed fewer than one in 10 middle-income countries, offering full cessation support. In Africa, only Senegal was highlighted. The 2019 edition of the report notes that Sub Saharan African (SSA) countries have a poor record in implementing cessation initiatives. According to the report, smoking cessation support was offered in some primary healthcare facilities in only 10 countries. Zambia is NOT on this list of countries. The only official clinic Zambia had for tobacco cessation was at Chainama Hospital and closed down in the late 80s.
Zambia does not have
– A national tobacco cessation strategy,
– National tobacco cessation clinical guidelines,
– A national toll-free quit line.
Several actions can be taken to step up cessation efforts in Zambia. Shifting tobacco cessation counseling to lower-level healthcare workers, for example, will limit multiple demands placed on senior healthcare professionals, who are frequently overburdened and in short supply. Ultimately, there is a need for existing healthcare systems to be strengthened to implement tobacco cessation promotion and tobacco dependence treatment initiatives.
The Zambian government must also invest in promoting cessation, by developing evidence-based, cost-effective national strategies and guidelines, and allocating adequate resources for program’s implementation. Free counseling must be provided for quitters, and mass communication initiatives that encourage quitting must be part of cessation programs. For optimal effect, governments must implement such programs in conjunction with other demand-reduction tobacco control policies,
– notably evoking higher tobacco taxes to make tobacco less affordable,
– effecting smoke-free spaces/banning smoking in public places,
– bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship,
– enforcing placement of large pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages,
– and anti-tobacco mass media campaigns.
At a time when tobacco companies are investing massively in strategies and technology aimed at initiating young people to their products, we must not forget that the industry already has at least 1.4 Million Zambians using its products, over 80% of whom are based in rural areas. The tobacco industry sees a huge market in Africa and will no doubt continue to attempt to attract as many people to its products as possible. The industry is eager to inundate Africa with new products like e-cigarettes, misleadingly brandishing them as quit aids and harm reduction products. The World Health Organization is clear about this; evidence is still inconclusive, and e-cigarettes are often used along with one or more tobacco products, thereby making them quite harmful to human health.
World No Tobacco Day 2021 reminds us that our responsibility as tobacco control advocates is not only limited to keeping the industry at bay and making it pay for the damage it causes, but also ensuring that the approximately 20% of the world’s population currently using their product get the help they need to renounce tobacco.
For Zambia, we are further informed by the Tobacco Control Investment Case 2018 and the Non-Communicable Diseases Investment Case 2019 of the economic damage tobacco use is causing to the nation. We are told that Zambia loses in excess of K2.8 billion/year (1.2% of GDP lost/year).
Tobacco is a lethal product – the only legal product that when used as instructed kills 50% of its users, shortening their productie lives by more than 20 years. It is estimated that tobacco kills over 7,400 Zambians/year, 60% of whom are under 70 yrs of age and causes loss of 116, 427 healthy years of life.
When the news came out that smokers were more likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19 compared to non-smokers, it triggered millions of smokers to want to quit tobacco use. Quitting can be challenging, especially with the added social and economic stress that have come as a result of the pandemic. Of the 1.3 billion tobacco users globally, 60% have expressed the desire to quit – but only 30% have access to the tools to help them to do so successfully.
This World No Tobacco Day 2021 campaign aims to empower and support tobacco users on their journey to quit.
The benefits of quitting tobacco are almost immediate. After just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate drops. Within 12 hours, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within 2-12 weeks, your circulation improves and lung function increases. Within 1-9 months, coughing and shortness of breath decrease. Within 5-15 years, your stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. Within 10 years, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is that of a non-smoker.
If that’s not enough here are a few more reasons! Tobacco use has negative social consequences and can affect social interactions and relationships negatively.
Quitting means there are no restrictions on where you can go – you can mingle socially, without feeling isolated or having to go outside to smoke. Quitting can make you more productive – you won’t have to stop what you are doing to have a smoke all the time.
Quitting smoking decreases the risk of your friends and relatives from many diseases related to second-hand smoke. In children, these include diseases such as respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma) and ear infections.
Over 800 people die in Zambia every year from exposure to second-hand smoke.
Being exposed to second-hand smoke may increase the risk of progression from tuberculosis infection to active disease, no wonder it makes one predisposed to Covid19 infection as well. Being exposed to second-hand smoke is also associated with type 2 diabetes, the main adjuvant to SARS-COv2 in causing death in Covid19 patients.
We call upon all well meaning Zambians to help tobacco users to “Commit to Quit tobacco use”, to actually quit and remain abstinent. Cessation of tobacco use starts with setting a date to stop using tobacco, may that date be today! Once set, keep the promise to stop using tobacco on the set date and avoid going to places where you will be tempted to relapse – places where there is a lot of environment smoke, Bars and taverns and night clubs.
This echoes our efforts for the enactment of a comprehensive tobacco and nicotine products bill in Zambia. The country stands to benefit quite a lot from this law which will be a domestication of the first international treaty on health brokered by the United Nations. We look forward to having this Bill resurrected early in the next parliamentary sitting and passed within the first legislative sitting of the parliament.
The Zambia Tobacco Control Consortium stands with the international Tobacco Control community in commemorating this important date on the calendar of the World Health Organisation and indeed on our national health calendar as well.
We wish you all a fruitful World No Tobacco Day 2021.
May God bless each of you as you endeavour to protect yourselves and your loved ones against the harms of tobacco.
Have a fruitful World No Tobacco Day 2021.
I thank you.
Prof. Fastone Mathew Goma
Zambia Tobacco Control Consortium