…as activist warn Tobacco companies not to target children
LINDA SOKO TEMBO Writes
TOBACCO Free Association of Zambia (TFAZ) has disclosed that tobacco kills approximately 7,142 Zambians every year, 60 percent of which are individuals under the age of 70 years.
The TFAZ also states that about 800 of the stated deaths are due to exposure to second hand smoke.
The most hit by the tobacco epidemic are the poorest and least educated,” states the report said the association.
Launching a survey report, entitled the ‘Big Tobacco Tiny Targets’, TFAZ Executive Director, Brenda Chitindi, said each year tobacco cost the Zambian economy about K2.8 billion in lost production and K154 million in healthcare expenditure.
Ms. Chitindi said and on tobacco related diseases K2.7 million in lost production capacities due to premature mortality, disability and workplace smoking tobacco related costs indicated that the substance used caused problems in the country and beyond the health sector.
“There is enough evidence that the tobacco industry deliberately and systematically targets children in order to encourage smoking and the use of the other Tobacco products among them,” she said.
Ms. Stated, “This is carried out using multiple tactics, including marketing advertising and promotion very often around schools leading to experimentation with addiction to tobacco among children who are thus more likely to become addicted longtime.”
“Tobacco users suffer from Tobacco related diseases later in life and or premature deaths,” she said.
Ms. Chitindi said that the research showed that exposure to cigarette advertising and promotion at a younger age created a positive imagine of the smoker and desire to smoke.
She said that it also encouraged young people to continue smoking after initially attempting to quit.
She said children represented a huge reservoir of future smokers, and it was not surprising that the tobacco companies wanted to optimize the opportunities that children represented for increased sales and profits.
Ms. Chitindi also disclosed that Tobacco companies viewed Zambia as a key potential market for their products especially at the time when tobacco sales and consumption were decreasing in developing countries.
“If the aggressive marketing tactics of tobacco companies are left unchecked, especially among children, it is likely that the country will witness a major epidemic in the years to come leading to unprecedented health and social economic consequences,” she said.
She said there was need to take urgent action to stop the tobacco industry from interfering with the youth, adolescents and children’s health and social status through exposing them to tobacco use.