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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid