Time to curb young coffin nail users in Africa is now
Africa is home to more than 250 million smokers according to last year estimates by health authorities. Some 90 million of them are teenagers, with the Global Youth Tobacco Survey reporting in few years ago that there were even smokers under 5 years of age in many parts of the continent especially in war torn areas like Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Mali, Somalia and Sudan. The worrying trend is that number of child smokers in sub Saharan continues to rise every year while in the western countries they are dwindling. This year alone saw more than a third percent increase in child smokers in the region, according to the recently released data from a health research company based in South Africa. In 2005, teenagers generally started smoking between the ages and close to a decade later, they took up the addictive habit at the age of 6 meaning more younger Africans are joining smoking culture.
By now Africa should have stopped disputing the fact that smoking kills. The World Health Organization says tobacco is responsible for millions of deaths a year worldwide and estimates that the number could rise to 10 million by 2030. In Australia, cigarette manufactures began printing graphic health warnings on packets in 2010 and as Africa tries to reduce the number of smokers and discourage its citizens, they need to copy the model applied by Australia and other western countries especially children, from taking up the habit. Such measures are just one of many steps the government should take quickly to protect their citizens, because that alone is not enough. Tobacco companies, for instance, appeared undeterred by the new warnings’ potential impact on sales, with one company operating in East African region saying it expects to maintain a 30 percent increase in sales this year. As a non-smoker, Contador Harrison strongly believe comprehensive measures and concerted effort must be taken to stop the growth in smoker numbers in world’s fastest growing continent. Age restrictions on tobacco sales are needed immediately, with strict penalties for those selling cigarettes to children.