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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid