Six African Countries Gather to Improve Tobacco Counter Marketing

March 18th, 2014
Health Ministry Representatives from Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda today joined a regional workshop to improve warnings on cigarette packs and anti-tobacco public education campaigns. The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) and World Lung Foundation (WLF) are hosting the four-day event that also includes representatives from World Health Organization and NGOs from participating countries.

Representatives from the Ministries of Health will discuss their objectives and hear from leading experts in tobacco control. These experts will share practical strategies for developing and running powerful, cost-effective, anti-tobacco advertising campaigns and implementing effective graphic pictorial warnings on tobacco packaging. By the end of the workshop, participants will have developed a country-specific plan that can be implemented within the next 12 months.

Tobacco in Africa: An increasing problem

According to The Tobacco Atlas, cigarette consumption in the Middle East and Africa increased by 57 percent between 1990 and 2009. Economic growth has increased the disposable income of many Africans and this has attracted the attention of the tobacco companies, keen to attract and profit from a new market of potential smokers. In Botswana, adult daily smoking prevalence is 17 percent; in Kenya it is 10 percent, in Nigeria it is 4 percent, in South Africa it is 14 per cent and in Uganda it is 7 percent. Estimates were not currently available for Rwanda.

Every country represented at the workshop is a party to WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), but each needs to improve their implementation of tobacco control measures in order to achieve best practice, according to World Health Organisation's Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic 2013. Pack Warnings are addressed in Article 11 of FCTC and Public Education is addressed in Article 12.

Countries like Botswana, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda have an opportunity either to introduce graphic warnings or to increase the size of small warnings currently on cigarette packs. Leading the way, Kenya and South Africa have begun the process of implementing graphic warnings. Between 2011 and 2012, Rwanda was the only country of the six to conduct a national anti-tobacco mass media campaign. This suggests that all six countries could make greater use of national mass media campaigns to educate people about the real harms of tobacco use.

Dr. Possy Mugyenyi, Centre Manager of The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), said: "We have strong evidence that graphic pack warnings and mass media campaigns can prompt smokers to quit and support tobacco control measures, so it is in the interest of smokers and non-smokers alike that clear, effective information be delivered. We are pleased to be joined by colleagues from so many countries, which shows that they intend to be ahead of the tobacco industry. In countries like Uganda, where tobacco use is on the increase among youth, and is now as high as 17 percent, we need tools like communication campaigns and graphic pack warnings to create awareness, both here and across all of Africa."

Sandra Mullin, Senior Vice President, Policy & Communications, World Lung Foundation, commented: "This event comes at a time when economic success in many African countries is making them a target for tobacco companies. Only governments can counter the millions of dollars tobacco companies will spend to paint their products as healthy and fun. Our objective is to help participants develop the practical skills and tools to ensure their citizens understand how dangerous tobacco really is. We are confident that the lives of many Africans will be positively impacted by the outcome of the next four days."

This tobacco control initiative is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. World Lung Foundation is a principal partner in the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.

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About World Lung Foundation

World Lung Foundation was established in response to the global epidemic of lung disease, which kills 10 million people each year. The organization also works on maternal and infant mortality reduction initiatives. WLF improves global health by improving local health capacity, by supporting operational research, by developing public policy and by delivering public education. The organization's areas of emphasis are tobacco control, maternal and infant mortality prevention, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, asthma, and child lung health. For more information, please visit worldlungfoundation.org.

About The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa

CTCA was established in response to a call by the World Health Organization /Tobacco Free Initiative (WHO/TFI) to establish a regional centre of excellence to spearhead tobacco control in Africa. CTCA's main mandate is to support governments in African countries to build and sustain institutional capacity for Tobacco Control. The Centre aims to reduce the burden of disease due to tobacco by supporting governments in implementing evidence-based tobacco control strategies in Africa. The areas of focus include; Legislation, Raising tobacco taxes, Graphic Health Warnings, Smoke free environments, Ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, as well as Promotion of alternative livelihoods. The Centre currently operates in six target countries including Uganda, Kenya, Republic of South Africa, Mauritania, Angola, and Gambia. CTCA is supported by World Health Organization (WHO) and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is hosted by the School of Public Health at Makerere University's College of Health Sciences' www.musph.ac.ug as part of a consortium of three organizations, the others being: Uganda National Association of Community and Occupational Health ( UNACOH) www.unacoh.org and Uganda Health Communications Alliance ( UHCA) www.healthuganda.org. For more information, please visit www.ctc-africa.org.

More information:
World Lung Foundation
61 Broadway, Suite 2800
New York, New York 10006
212-542-8870
info@worldlungfoundation.org
http://www.worldlungfoundation.org
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Tracey Johnston, World Lung Foundation, tjohnston@worldlungfoundation.org or 00 44 7889 081170.

Provided by The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa

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