News / Africa

Senegal Sounds Warnings about Smoking

Jennifer Lazuta
As the number of smokers continues to rise in Africa, the World Health Organization warns that smoking - and smoking-related diseases - could become a major epidemic in the region.  The region’s first-ever national campaign on the dangers of tobacco use was launched Tuesday.
 
Senegal’s Ministry of Health and Social Action, along with the World Lung Foundation, has officially launched an eight-week, mass-media campaign that will attempt to educate the public on the dangers of smoking. 
 
The campaign, which is known as “Sponge,” will graphically depict the dangers of tobacco use on TV, radio, and billboards, as well as send information via text message to the citizens of Senegal. 
 
Rebecca Perl is the associate director of the World Lung Foundation.  She said that the campaign will not only empower people to quit or avoid smoking, but will also encourage the government to pass policies that protect citizens from the dangers of tobacco. 
 
“These mass media campaigns are really critical because they basically educate the public as to the dangers of smoking.  I think people say they know abstractly, that yeah, cigarettes are bad for you, smoking is bad for you, but they don’t know how bad.  They don’t know really what it will do and how many people [it will affect], and what the consequences are and how the consequences look, which is extremely horrifying," she said. 
 
According to the latest figures by the American Cancer Society, tobacco consumption rose 57 percent in Africa between 1997 and 2009. 
 
In Senegal, it is estimated that 11 percent of citizens currently use tobacco products, and that almost 48 percent of Senegalese youth are exposed to secondhand smoke within their homes.
 
In neighboring countries, such as Ivory Coast, consumption is nearly 20 percent.
 
While these numbers aren’t as high as they are in some other countries, Perl said that as the tobacco industry continues to increase its advertising in Africa and takes advantage of the lack of cigarette regulation in the region, these numbers are set to “skyrocket.” 
 
“Unfortunately, the successes that the West has had on tobacco control, has come, at some extent, to the detriment of the southern part of the world because they move markets.  So in Africa, the tobacco companies see there’s more opportunity for growth and they come in to advertise their products and get people addicted to cigarettes, which is an extremely bad thing, because the last thing any country needs is an epidemic of cancer and heart disease and lung disease - and that’s what you get with tobacco," she said. 
 
Rachel Kitonyo is the program director for the Africa Tobacco Control Consortium Project.  She said that a graphic anti-smoking campaign is key to preventing what she calls the "imminent" tobacco epidemic. 
 
“We say a picture speaks a thousand words.  Well, we still have high levels of illiteracy in Africa.  And so when you look at the kind of warnings we are putting on cigarette packets in Africa - tiny letters on the side of the packet - who’s watching that?  So when you have graphic pictures, one look at that is enough to get someone to think," she said. 
 
Advocacy groups say that in addition to the awareness campaign, they are also hoping to pass anti-smoking laws in all public places within Senegal and raise taxes on cigarettes. 
 
In Senegal, a pack of cigarettes currently costs just over $1.
 
Dr. Abdoul Aziz Kasse is the president of Senegal’s League Against Tobacco.  He said that raising the price of cigarettes in any country is one of the most effective ways of controlling smoking.
 
He says 50 years of research has shown that we can significantly reduce tobacco consumption among young people and the poor by raising the taxes.  He says not only will this discourage smoking, but it will raise money for the government to invest in health care programs.  
 
Anti-tobacco legislation is currently under review in Senegal’s National Assembly.  Representatives say they are working to pass it quickly, but so far, no action has been taken.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid