DAR ES SALAAM, May 31 (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania said on Wednesday plans were afoot to formulate and implement a law aimed at controlling tobacco related diseases in the east African nation.
Ummy Mwalimu, the Minister for Health, said the legislation will aim at controlling tobacco related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart and lung diseases.
Data obtained from the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) and the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) show that 32 percent of cancer cases reporting to these institutions were linked to smoking tobacco.
A study carried out in 2013 by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the WHO showed that 17.5 percent of people in households who did not actively smoke tobacco were exposed to the substance by other smokers.
"And, 24.9 percent are exposed to the tobacco smoke in workplaces," said the study.
Currently the Tobacco Products (Regulation) Act, 2003 is the only piece of tobacco control legislation in Tanzania.
It regulates public smoking, tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and tobacco packaging and labeling.
In her address to the World No Tobacco Day themed-Tobacco- a threat to development, Mwalimu said apart from formulating the law, the legislation will also seek to amend the Tobacco Products (Regulation) Act, 2003 by making sure that imported and locally manufactured cigarette products were labeled with strong warnings at both sides of the cigarette packet to alert users over effects of smoking.
"We have initiated a joint working scheme with other relevant ministries like the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs, the Ministry of Industries, the Ministry of Finance and various civil society organizations (CSOs) to make sure that we achieve fighting tobacco related diseases in the country," she said.
Mwalimu said the government will officially stop broadcasting of cigarette products on billboards alongside roads or on television or radio in a bid to reduce demand for tobacco among users.
Neema Kileo, a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO), urged the government to formulate and implement advocacy policies and legislation in combating tobacco related diseases.
"I call upon WHO member states to include tobacco control in their national policies, plans and sustainable development goals," said Kileo, urging countries across the world to raise tobacco taxes to reduce demand for the commodity.
Reports availed by WHO indicated that tobacco kills more than 7.2 million people per year, with over 80 per cent from low or middle-income countries including Tanzania.
In the African region, about 146,000 adults aged 30 years and above die every year from tobacco related diseases, according to the WHO. Enditem