Burning ciggarette

Every year, on 31 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) and global partners celebrate World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The annual campaign is an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure, and to discourage the use of tobacco in any form.

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2019 is on “tobacco and lung health.” The campaign will increase awareness on:

The negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.

Stories Continues after ad

The campaign also serves as a call to action, advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control.

Tobacco is deadly in any form and threatens the lung health of everyone exposed to it. Tobacco kills one person every 4 seconds.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health working with partners launched the National Tobacco Control Committee (NTCC) at a breakfast meeting held in Kampala last month.

The NTCC will supervise the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act 2015, in accordance with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The committee is also responsible for the coordination and monitoring of tobacco control interventions as well as providing advice to the Minister of Health on policies and measures relating to tobacco control legislation and implementation of the act.

Additionally, the committee will monitor the interference and insulation of tobacco-related policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

The committee will be chaired by Office of the Prime Minister while Ministry of Health holds the secretariat position. The representatives of the committee include; Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UBOS), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Civil Society.

While inaugurating the committee, Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng at the launch, acknowledged the enormous responsibility bestowed upon the committee. “We are aware of the power of the tobacco industry and I implore you all to take on this life saving role with utmost diligence and commitment.”

“The Tobacco industry is looking for loopholes, we have to follow the law and tighten these loopholes to tackle this problem because they are not resting. While we launch this committee, they are looking for new ways to push their agenda,” she said.

Aceng warned committee members against being lured by the tobacco industry. “Receiving even a cent from individuals for the tobacco industry will lead to millions of lives lost and blood in your hands. Please desist from the temptation of conniving with the industry and its accomplices” she cautioned.

Dr. Aceng further mentioned that Uganda is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention Tobacco Control, an evidence-based treaty that reaffirms the rights of all people to the highest standard of health.

She also informed the meeting that the Uganda Tobacco Control Act is ‘comprehensive and one of the best tobacco control laws in the region.’ “The law provides for a multisectoral approach to tobacco control to tackle this growing public health problem” she said.

She commended WHO and Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health for their support to the Ministry of Health to tackle tobacco consumption in the country.

The WHO Representative in Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, lauded Ministry of Health on instilling the committee. “This committee will go a long way in curbing Tobacco related morbidity and mortality” he said. He added that “tobacco is the only product which when used according to manufacturer’s instructions kills 50 per cent of its consumers.”

In Uganda, currently, tobacco use is the main underlying risk factor for the four major noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) that is, cancer, hypertension, diabetes and lung diseases. Over 75 per cent of lung cancer deaths are attributed to tobacco use. Tobacco use has adverse health, social and economic consequences at all levels of society.

The 2014 NCD Risk Factor Survey, revealed that in Uganda 1 in 10 people is a current tobacco user while prevalence of tobacco use among adults stands at 7.9 per cent and 17.8 per cent among young people.