The Ministry of Health and Wellness in collaboration with key stakeholders, are working on ensuring the implementation of the Control of Smoking Act.
This was said by health and wellness minister, Dr Lemogang Kwape when addressing the nation on the World No Tobacco Day commemoration on May 31.
He said Botswana signed the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003 and ratified the same in 2005.
In this regard, he said this had given Botswana an opportunity to refine the Control of Smoking Act to a more comprehensive statute that would align to the articles of the FCTC.
Dr Kwape said it was the ministry’s intention to ensure that youth were protected from the manipulative tactics employed by the tobacco and related industries, hence collaborates with civil society organisations to empower the youth with information and knowledge on tobacco and nicotine products.
“We will empower influencers to protect and defend youth and catalyse change by encouraging them in the fight against Big Tobacco Industries,” he stated.
Other measures that have been taken by the government, the minister said, included the signing of the ‘Protocol on Elimination of Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products in 2013’, and were currently in the process of ratifying it.
He said the introduction of the Tobacco Levy in 2014 resulted in the appointment of the Tobacco Levy Implementation Committee, which facilitated the realisation of the purpose of the levy fund order.
Furthermore, he stated that during the State of Public Health Emergency declared by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, the use and sale of tobacco and tobacco products remained suspended.
This decision, he said, was taken to protect people from the severity of COVID-19; protection from notable habits of smokers such as sharing of tobacco products such as cigarettes, and smoking pipes adding that tobacco smoke weakened the lungs that the Coronavirus is known to attack.
Tobacco and tobacco products kill eight million people every year through lung disease, heart diseases, cancers and other non-communicable diseases. Tobacco use is responsible for 25 per cent of all cancer deaths globally.
Furthermore, Minister Kwape said evidence showed that young people were induced early in their lives into using tobacco.
This year’s commemoration is themed Protecting Youth from Industry Manipulation and Preventing them from Tobacco and Nicotine Use. The theme, according to Minister Kwape, is relevant to the current times and trends. “Our young people remain vulnerable to an array of persuasive, carefully crafted commercial messages encouraging the use of tobacco products,” he said.